Can a daily serving of nuts help weight management?

Many people fear nuts because of their fat content, yet their health benefits are numerous. Packed with unsaturated fatty acids, fibre, protein, and other beneficial chemicals, two new studies suggest that a small daily serving of nuts may be good for overall metabolic health and keep weight off. 

The first study found:

1. Eating a daily serving of any type of nut or peanuts was associated with less risk of weight gain or becoming obese over the four-year questionnaire intervals.

2. Substituting one serving a day of any type of nuts in place of one serving of red meat, processed meat, French fries, desserts or potato chips was associated with less weight gain.

A serving of nuts was defined as one ounce of whole nuts or two tablespoons of nut butter.

The second study examined the effects of Brazil nuts on satiety, blood sugar, and insulin response. The 22 participants, 20 of whom were women, added either 36 grams of pretzels or 20 grams of Brazil nuts to their normal diet in two trials. At least 48 hours passed between trials. The Brazil nuts and pretzels contained about the same number of calories and the same amount of sodium. Both triggered a sense of fullness, but the Brazil nuts contributed to an increased feeling of satiety. Overall the study found:

1. Both Brazil nuts and pretzels significantly increased a sense of fullness and reduced feelings of hunger, with the greatest sense of fullness experienced by the group eating Brazil nuts compared to those eating pretzels.

2. Pretzel consumption caused a significant increase in blood glucose and insulin at 40-minutes after they were eaten. However more importantly, eating Brazil nuts did not significantly increase blood glucose or insulin.

Although the study was observational, the researchers speculated that selenium may explain the benefits of Brazil nuts. Prior studies had linked the mineral with better insulin and blood sugar responses, and Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium.

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