Eating a handful of nuts a day may interfere with the spread of middle age, new research suggests.
Scientists who fend off the consumption of walnuts, peanuts, pecans or other varieties prevent obesity-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
They are rich in unsaturated fats, which make people feel fuller – they stop the pounds – and keep the blood sugar, insulin and cholesterol levels within limits.
They are also filled with fiber, proteins, vitamins and minerals – including folic acid, vitamin E, potassium and magnesium.
The results of two separate studies presented at an American Heart Association conference in Chicago show that nuts can control weight and improve health.
Those who eat an ounce of nuts or peanuts per day – botanically legumes when they grow underground – instead of a similar serving of meat, chips or desserts were less likely to gain weight
Just one ounce of nuts daily – or two tablespoons of peanut butter – instead of chips reduced the risk of men and women becoming overweight or over four years old.
First author Dr. Xiaoran Liu, a nutritionist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said, "As soon as people reach adulthood, they gradually gain about a pound of weight – which seems small.
"However, if you consider gaining a pound over 20 years, you will gain a lot of weight.
Adding an ounce of nuts to your diet instead of eating less healthy foods – such as red or processed meats, French fries or sugary snacks – can prevent this slow, gradual weight gain after adulthood and reduce the risk of obesity. diseases. "
One ounce is about 24 almonds, 18 cashews, 12 hazelnuts, eight Brazil nuts, 12 macadamias, 35 peanuts, 15 pecan halves or 14 walnut halves.
Dr. Liu and colleagues pooled data from 126,190 health care workers who participated in three surveys in the US.
Those who eat an ounce of nuts or peanuts per day – botanically legumes when they grow underground – instead of a similar serving of meat, chips or desserts were less likely to gain weight.
At the beginning, they were all free of chronic diseases. They completed a questionnaire on the frequency of food every four years.
Dr. Liu said, "People often view nuts as a high-fat, high-calorie food, so they're reluctant to consider them as healthy snacks, but they're actually associated with less weight gain and well-being."
Specifically, the other US team studied Brazil nuts, which have been shown to increase the feeling of fullness – and increase sensitivity to the glucose-controlling hormone insulin.
In the study, 20 women and two men consumed either 20 grams or about 36 grams of pretzels in addition to their normal diet.
These corresponded to approximately the same amount of calories and sodium and were eaten in two experiments with a "washout" period of at least 48 hours to avoid carryover effects.
The pretzels caused a significant increase in blood sugar and insulin 40 minutes later. That did not happen with the nuts.
Senior author Prof. Mee Young Hong, a nutrition scientist at San Diego State University, said, "While both Brazil nuts and pretzels boosted the sensation of fullness after consumption, the consumption of Brazil nuts stabilized post-meal blood sugar and insulin levels can be beneficial in the prevention of diabetes and weight gain. & # 39;
Brazil nuts are one of the best known food sources for selenium – a mineral that has previously been associated with improvements in insulin and glucose responses.
The hormone is produced in the pancreas and processes the blood sugar into energy. Some people are insulin resistant or do not produce enough.
This means that glucose can reach unhealthy levels and lead to diabetes – an important risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.
Professor Hong said, "Our study allows researchers and clinicians to consider the potential beneficial role of Brazil nuts in helping people feel full and maintain a healthy glucose level – reducing the risk of obesity and diabetes."
Since only nine percent of the participants were men, the results should not be generalized to a male population, he said.