Harvard University experts tracked almost 300,000 people for two decades. They were asked about how many nuts they ate and how much they weighed. Participants who ate half an ounce (14g) of nuts every day gained less weight.
Eating half a serving of nuts every day could stop you from gaining weight as you get older, research suggests.
Experts tracked almost 300,000 people for around two decades. They were asked about how many nuts they ate and how much they weighed.
Results showed participants who ate half an ounce (14g) of nuts every day gained less weight and were less likely to become obese.
Scientists now say replacing unhealthy snacks, such as chocolate, with nuts could slow down the dreaded middle-age spread.
The researchers say the study cannot establish cause and relied on self-reported data, which can prove to be inaccurate.
But they suggest that chewing nuts takes more effort than eating fast food, while the high fibre content can make people feel full for longer.
Nut fibre also binds well to fat in the gut, meaning more calories are excreted, the researchers wrote in the published paper of their study.
Nuts are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre, but are not often consumed for weight loss because they are calorie-dense.
But there is evidence to suggest that quality of diet, as well as counting calories, plays a role in weight management.
Harvard University researchers analysed information on weight, diet and physical activity in three groups of people.
The first consisted of 51,000 male professionals aged 40 to 75. The other two both comprised around 120,000 nurses aged between 24 and 55.
Participants were asked every four years to state their weight and how often they had eaten a serving of nuts. They reported their exercise every two years.
Increasing consumption of any type of nut was linked to less long-term weight gain and a lower risk of becoming obese.
Substituting snacks for half a serving of nuts was found to prevent around 0.9 to 1.5lbs (0.41-0.7kg) of weight gain over the following four years.
While upping daily nut consumption from none to half a serving was linked to preventing almost 1.6lbs (0.74kg) in weight gain.
And a consistently eating at least half a serving of nuts each day had a similar effect, the researchers wrote in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.
Analysis of the data suggested eating half a serving of nuts each day – of any kind – was linked to a 23 per cent lower risk of becoming obese.
In terms of individual nuts, eating an extra half a serving of walnuts a day lowered the odds of becoming obese of the next four years by around 15 per cent.
No such associations were observed for increases in peanut butter intake, according to the researchers led by Dr Xiaoran Liu.
The findings remained true after taking account of changes in diet and lifestyle, such as exercise and alcohol intake.
Adults in the US pile on 1lb (0.45kg) every year, on average. It is thought British adults gain a similar amount of weight.
Gaining 5.5-22lbs (2.5-10kg) in weight is linked to a significantly greater risk of heart disease/stroke and diabetes.
Source: Daily Mail