CLEVELAND – If you’re like most people, you’re probably looking to avoid packing on extra weight this December.
According to a recent study, one way to keep the number on the scale in check this season is to help yourself to the holiday nut bowl.
The study looked at data from 144,885 people to see if eating nuts had any impact on their weight over time.
“When people were increasing their nut consumption, by a half of a serving, which boils down to a tablespoon and a half of raw peanuts, or two tablespoons of walnuts, a tree nut option, they were associated with less long-term weight gain,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Ryanne Lachman, RD, who did not take part in the study.
Lachman said the research showed eating nut butters did not have the same protective effect against weight gain.
She said this is likely because when we eat whole nuts, they take longer to chew, and this can slow us down and make us feel fuller, sooner.
For those who are looking to add more nuts to their diets, Lachman recommends tossing salads with chopped walnuts or sliced almonds or adding them to cooked dishes, such as green beans.
And while the study did not show that eating nuts helped people lose weight, it shows eating the right amount can help prevent us from gaining more.
“What I like about this study’s findings is that it’s preventative; it’s something that you can do to help prevent excess weight gain, or reduce the risk for developing obesity long-term,” said Lachman. “There are a lot of health benefits in nuts, and if weight is a concern, adding nuts to your diet could be a great option.”
Lachman said the healthiest way to enjoy nuts is in their raw form, without any added sugar or salt.
“I usually recommend about two big handfuls of nuts per day, or two tablespoons of unsweetened nut butters a day, at most, to see some health benefits, to help with satiety, but not to overdo it,” she said.
Complete results of the study can be found in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.