Nuts to the notion that nuts make you fat

Tuesday, 04 December, 2012


Nuts are back on the menu for dieters, following the release of a health report that busts the diet myth that eating nuts makes you fat. The 2012 Nut Report: Nuts and the Big Fat Myth shows that this myth is so ingrained in the Australian psyche that it’s the reason 98% of Australians don’t meet the recommended daily intake of 30 g of nuts a day.

The report also found that health professionals also succumb to the myth, with only 1% of GPs and 4% of dietitians consuming 30 g of nuts per day, despite demonstrating an understanding of their role in reducing the risk of heart disease.

“Nuts are nutrient-dense and a rich source of good fats - mono and polyunsaturated fats,” said Lisa Yates, Advance Accredited Practising Dietitian and author of the report.

“This has led to confusion and perpetuated the myth that eating nuts makes you gain weight. In fact, the science shows the opposite is true.”

Yates said the report shows that those who regularly eat nuts generally have a lower body mass index (BMI), a better diet, lower risk of chronic disease and are less likely to gain weight than people who avoid eating nuts.

“To ensure more Australians gain the important health benefits of nuts, it is critical to bust the myth and once and for all confirm a handful of nuts a day does not cause weight gain and, as part of an energy-controlled diet, may help you lose weight.”

The study analysed a number of population studies, including the Seventh-Day Adventist study, Nurses’ Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study, which followed more than 130,000 people in total. It also analysed more than 60 intervention studies including research on weight management in diets designed to achieve other health outcomes such as cholesterol lowering and diabetes management.

The study said that, as well as having a high protein and fibre content that helps to satisfy hunger, nuts contain a fat that releases satiety hormones such as cholecystokinin CCK into the digestive system, which increases metabolism. Despite nuts’ higher fat content, nut eaters don’t absorb all the fat in nuts, the report said, but rather excrete more fat that those who don’t eat nuts.

The report was prepared by AAPD Lisa Yates in her role as dietitian for the Australian tree nuts industry’s nutrition body, Nuts for Life. The full report is available on the Nuts For Life website (www.nutsforlife.com.au). 

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