[Article updated on 19/09/2023]
A popular snack around the world, nuts have a bad reputation among those who want to stay in shape. Their high fat and calorie content has even led many people to simply ban them from their menu. But, is it really fair? Do nuts make you gain weight? This is what we will see in the following lines!
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
What is a nut?
Walnuts are nuts produced by the walnut tree (Juglans regia), a tree belonging to the Juglandaceae family. Native to the Mediterranean region and Central Asia, nuts have been part of the human diet for thousands of years. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contain higher amounts of antioxidants. The nut is the edible seed of a drupe.
Nuts can be eaten alone (raw, roasted or marinated), or as an ingredient in a dish. Nuts can also be candied.
In 2017, global production of walnuts (in shell) was 3.8 million tonnes, with China accounting for 51% of the total. The other main producers were the United States, Iran and Turkey.
What are the nutritional values of nuts?
Thirty (30) grams of organic nuts provide:
- energy: 200 calories;
- carbohydrates: 3.89 grams (g);
- sugar: 1 g;
- fiber: 2 g;
- protein: 5 g;
- lipids: 20 g;
- calcium: 20 milligrams (mg);
- iron: 0.72 mg;
- sodium: 0 mg;
Walnuts are also a good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B6 and iron. Nuts are also rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of protein. Nuts have a reputation for being a high-calorie, high-fat food. However, they are nutrient dense and provide heart-healthy fats.
The combination of healthy fats, protein, and fiber in nuts helps increase satisfaction and fullness. This makes them healthier as a snack, compared to chips, crackers, and other simple carbohydrate foods.
What are the health benefits of nuts?
Nuts are high in polyunsaturated fats, types of lipids that are healthier than saturated fats. They also contain a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that eating nuts can help reduce bad cholesterol levels. Cholesterol can form plaque inside your arteries, but eating nuts can help keep your artery walls healthy.
Nuts have also been shown to reduce the type of inflammation that leads to heart disease. They can also help reduce the risk of blood clots that could cause a heart attack. Two large studies found that five servings of nuts per week can reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 50%.
The vitamin E found in nuts is somewhat unusual and particularly beneficial. Instead of alpha-tocopherol, nuts provide an unusually high level of vitamin E in the form of gamma-tocopherol. This form of vitamin E provides significant protection against heart problems.
Some phytonutrients found in nuts, like quinone juglone, are found in virtually no other commonly consumed foods. Other phytonutrients like tellimagrandin and flavonol also have rare anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These phytonutrients help reduce the risk of certain cancers, including prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Nuts contribute to good intestinal health. A healthy gut is necessary for weight management. An unhealthy gut can increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer. If your gut health is good, you will automatically be able to digest food properly and control your weight.
Do nuts make you gain weight?
The lipids present in nuts are certainly beneficial for health, but nuts remain, above all, foods with a high caloric value. However, this does not mean that we must abandon their consumption in order not to gain weight.
No weight gain reported
A study published in the Journal of Nutrients found that healthy seniors who consumed nearly 300 calories of nuts per day showed no signs of weight gain.
Studies on dietary habits reveal that people who eat nuts regularly are less prone to weight gain than those who don’t eat them at all.
Other studies also show that including nuts in the diet could help better manage excess weight. In fact, one study reveals that when people followed a diet aimed at weight loss, the group of people who ate nuts lost more body fat than those who didn’t eat them.
Appetite suppressant effect
According to a study by the University of Barcelona carried out over twelve weeks, eating a handful of nuts daily has a satiating effect on the body. This increases serotonin levels and lowers both blood sugar and abdominal fat.
Some evidence suggests that eating nuts may increase the number of calories burned at rest. One study found that participants burned 28% more calories after a meal containing nuts. In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) stated that, when consumed as part of a regular diet, nuts do not contribute to weight gain.
A serving of 30 grams of nuts per day is recommended to benefit from all these effects. Obviously, nuts can also make you gain weight if you take them in excess. They have, in fact, a high caloric content and already provide a high percentage of fat. It is recommended to eat nuts for breakfast, you can also have them as a mid-morning or afternoon snack.
The answer to the question “do nuts make you fat” is therefore no.