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New results of scientific studies suggest that tree nut consumption does not lead to weight gain

As tree nuts are foodstuffs with a high fat content they have always been associated with an increase in body weight. However, recent research not only fails to back this up, but appears to show the opposite.

Researchers from the Human Nutrition Unit of the Rovira i Virgili University in Reus have published an article in the prestigious European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in which they assess all the scientific evidence concerning the matter. According to the researchers, the studies conducted up to now of large population samples do not relate habitual tree nut consumption with obesity, but rather the opposite. That is to say, individuals who habitually consume tree nuts are in general thinner than those who do not consume them, displaying a lower Body Mass Index (BMI), the parameter used in nutrition to classify individuals as obese, overweight, of normal weight or underweight. Furthermore, dietary intervention studies with tree nuts, where individuals are asked to incorporate these foods into their daily diet, also show similar results: in most of the studies no significant changes in body weight associated with tree nut-rich diets were noted. The most recent study in this field was conducted by Dr. Joan Sabaté and his colleagues at the University of Loma Linda in California and was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. These researchers assessed the effect on body weight of incorporating between 42 and 72g of almonds into the daily diet of 81 individuals. After six months' study, no significant weight gain was observed, and only those individuals with the lowest body mass index before the study showed a small amount of weight gain. There is therefore no proof that habitual tree nut consumption leads to weight gain. According to the experts, this fact may be explained by several mechanisms, as follows: 1. The absorption of tree nuts may be incomplete, so that part of their fat content may not be absorbed by the human body and would be excreted as faeces.,2. Eating tree nuts may have a certain satiating effect, so causing a reduction in the consumption of other foodstuffs and helping to control the total energy intake.,3. Though it is unproven, there may exist an adaptation of the metabolism, so that energy consumption could be more efficient and the body would burn more energy, so avoiding an accumulation of body fat. For all these reasons, and while the researchers insist on the need for further study of the topic, it seems that, contrary to popular belief, tree nuts are not fattening.

Keywords

Nutrition & Health