A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition investigated the association between nut intake and changes in body weight after five years of follow-up. Researchers also estimated the risks associated with overweight or obesity after higher nut consumption.
Nuts are energy-dense foods; they can provide 160-200kcal per serving (30g-a handful), so the concern that high nut consumption may lead to weight gain persists. For that reason, the present study aimed at analyzing if a frequent nut intake incorporated into a normocaloric, standard diet leads to weight gain.
373,293 participants were recruited between 1992 and 2000 from 10 European countries in the frame of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Body weight was measured at the beginning of the study and after a median follow-up of 5 years, and food consumption was assessed by country-specific validated food-frequency questionnaires. Results observed that those participants who consumed more nuts (more than one serving per week) gained less weight when compared to non-consumers. On the other hand, the frequency of nut consumption was associated with a 5% lower risk of becoming overweight or obese. Participants with a normal weight who consumed more nuts (6g/day) had a 5% lower risk of becoming overweight or obese compared with non-nut consumers. At the same time, overweight individuals at baseline also had a 5% lower risk of becoming obese.
The study concluded that a higher nut consumption was associated with less weight gain after 5 years and also a lower risk of overweight or obesity. Thus, these findings support dietary recommendations to increase nut intake and include them in our diet.
"This is the largest study ever conducted, showing that nuts are a non-fattening healthy food" said Dr. Joan Sabate, Professor of Nutrition at Loma Linda University and Senior Investigator of this research.
This study was supported by the INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council.