NEWS FLASH:

Nuts — A Real Healthy Treat

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Could nuts be one of the secret ingredients to weight loss? A couple of studies have found a correlation between relatively high nut consumption (two or more servings a week) and avoidance of weight gain and obesity. Researchers at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reported results in 2010 from a small (20 volunteers) study that showed walnuts at breakfast gave people a pre-lunch feeling of fullness that might make it easier to eat less. Ultimately, weight loss is about reining in calorie consumption (and increasing physical activity). But if nuts make people feel full, perhaps they can help lower calorie counts over all, even as they add to those totals.

Nuts are dense little packages of fat and protein, with most of the fat being the healthful, unsaturated kind. They don't contribute much in the way of vitamins but make up for it by supplying respectable amounts of potassium, magnesium, and several other required minerals.

Dieters have tended to stay away from nuts because the fat content makes them a high-calorie food. It doesn't help that we tend to shovel them in as snacks, not as part of meals. But nuts contain very little carbohydrate, so they're showing up in low-carb diets these days, particularly the ones that emphasize plant-based foods.

Nutrients in nuts per 1.5 ounces (43 grams) Calories Fat (grams) Protein (grams)
Almonds 254 22.5 9.4
Brazil nuts 279 28.2 6.1
Cashews 244 19.7 6.5
Hazelnuts 275 26.5 6.4
Macadamias 305 32.4 3.3
Peanuts 249 21.1 10.1
Pecans 302 31.6 4.0
Pistachios 243 19.6 9.1
Walnuts 278 27.7 6.5

Source: Report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, 2010.