Nuts make you fat? What a big fat myth…

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The idea that nuts make people overweight is one of those urban myths which doesn’t go away. According to recent research the reality is quite the opposite – nut eaters are more likely to weigh less.

A recent literature review Nuts & the Big Fat Myth, released by Nuts for Life in Australia, [1] busts the misconception that the high fat content of nuts could lead to weight gain. The review says that people can eat nuts even if they’re worried about their waistline. In fact, eating nuts should be encouraged.

The report explains that nut eaters absorb less fat as the fibrous walls in nuts help stop the body from absorbing up to 20 percent of the fat in nuts. The high amount of protein, fibre and unsaturated fats in nuts works hard to suppress hunger and if they are snacked on regularly, people are likely to feel fuller for longer. [1]

Nuts also send satiety signals to the brain and regular consumption boosts resting metabolic rates by 5-10 percent.

“This report is great news for Kiwis as we could definitely consume more nuts,” says New Zealand Nutrition Foundation dietitian Sarah Hanrahan.

“If you take a local example like Prolife Foods, New Zealand’s largest importer of nuts, they estimate Kiwis consume less than 5g of nuts per day. It’s evident we need to work harder to dispel the fat myth and focus on how beneficial they are for our diet.”

Nuts for Life dietitian, Lisa Yates, says that as well as the positive impacts to weight management, Nuts & the Big Fat Myth has highlighted those people who eat 30g or a handful of nuts each day tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI), better diet quality and less chance of acquiring heart disease compared with those that don’t eat them. {2}

“So believe what the dietitians are telling you when they say low fat diets are out and diets full of healthy fats are in,” she says.

The New Zealand Nutrition Foundation agrees: “Nuts are nutrition-packed powerhouses. It is important that people understand the difference between good and bad fats so they know that healthy-fat plant foods such as nuts are good for them, rather than thinking they are bad because you will gain weight,” says Sarah.

“While nuts are high in calories, we don’t absorb all those calories as up to 15 percent of the energy in nuts may be excreted. Their benefits such as keeping you feeling fuller for longer outweigh the risk of gaining weight.

“When we take a look at the current obesity epidemic we know it’s not down to nuts,” Sarah adds.
The 2014/15 New Zealand Health survey states that nearly 31 percent of Kiwi adults and 11 percent of children aged 2-14 years were obese.

“The rise in obesity can be attributed to poor food choices and a lack of exercise so it’s essential we encourage New Zealanders to base their diets on wholefoods that are full of nutrients.”

“There’s no denying it – a handful of nuts is much better for you than handful of potato chips.”

With almost 250,000 Kiwis living with Type 2 diabetes, weight management is a crucial factor to manage the disease. Nuts cause a low glycaemic index effect when they’re eaten with carbohydrate rich foods, which means people with diabetes don’t get hungry as quickly as their blood glucose is stabilised.

Diets high in saturated and trans fats have been linked to an increased risk of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance leads to weight gain, however, when 30g of nuts are eaten in a daily Mediterranean diet, fasting insulin and insulin resistance are reduced, resulting in a positive impact on blood glucose and cholesterol, and proving that nuts are an excellent addition to your diet for managing weight. [2]

The nutritional cocktail nuts provide, including healthy fats, plant omega-3s and sterols, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, means if Kiwis enjoy a handful of nuts (30g) a day, they will be equipped with the nutrients to contribute to a healthy heart, lowered cholesterol and a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

Nuts and weight facts: how do nuts help manage weight?
– Satisfying hunger and reducing appetite
– Fewer kilojoules absorbed
– Increased energy expenditure
– Low glycaemic index effect
– Improving insulin sensitivity
– For all of these reasons, and their positive impact on blood cholesterol, nuts are an excellent addition to a healthy eating pattern for managing weight

Use your nut
– Raw nuts are best with the skin on as most of antioxidants and phytochemicals are located on the outer soft shell.
– Nuts are a great source of fibre, particularly with the skins left on.
– Nuts are one of the few plant sources of omega-3 and as a plant food, they are naturally free of dietary cholesterol.
– To keep nuts in the best condition, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. Nuts can be refrigerated up to four months and frozen up to six months.
– Nuts have their own day! Celebrate the multiple benefits of the wholesome and delicious nut on National Nut Day – October 18, 2016.


Kiwis can celebrate their love for nuts on National Nut Day on Tuesday October 18.
For more information on nuts and recipe ideas visit www.alisonspantry.co.nz or www.motherearth.co.nz
For more information on nuts and weight management visit www.nutsforlife.com.au

Reference:
[1] Nuts & the Big Fat Myth: The positive role for nuts in weight management. 2016. [2] Nuts and weight management. Nuts for Life 2016, www.nutsforlife.com.au

 

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