Food Science

Including Nuts in Your Diet: Health Benefits and Weight Loss

When you are fighting with all your might to curb your cravings, nuts get you through to the next meal. Nuts are heroes – tasty, convenient, and nutritious. No matter what type of diet plan you are following, nuts are among the safest and healthiest snacks you should always have on hand.

So what can nuts do for your weight loss? Nuts can be the secret weapon you’ve always wanted to help you reach your weight loss goals. Here’s why.

Health Benefits of Nuts

For nuts to be a safe part of your diet, not only should they contain low levels of all the ‘bad’ stuff, but they also should be rich in essential vitamins and minerals. And nuts do not disappoint.

Rich in Nutrients and Vitamins

Although not all nuts have the same nutritional value, they have one thing in common – they are all packed with specific nutrients. One ounce of mixed nuts contains 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and 173 calories, which makes them a great midday snack. Some nuts also have unique minerals like selenium, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. This makes them ideal for those on a low carb diet.

Rich in Antioxidants

Nuts specifically have polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants known to combat oxidative stress and reduce cell damage. Research shows that walnuts and almonds in particular have antioxidants that can protect cells from damage by oxidation. One study took a closer look at pecans and found that participants who consumed whole pecans had an up to 33 percent drop in the LDL levels. This brings us to yet another benefit of eating nuts.

Lower LDL Levels

Reducing your cholesterol and LDL levels is one of the most important aspects of weight loss, and nuts do not disappoint in this regard. The high content of ‘good’ fat is responsible for its ability to lower LDL levels. In one study of obese people who included pistachios in their diet, triglyceride levels were 33 percent lower than those who didn’t consume nuts. Not only can nuts reduce the level of bad cholesterol, but they can also increase the HDL or proper cholesterol levels.

Low in Carbohydrates

If you have issues with high sugar, maintaining a healthy diet can be extremely challenging. The reason for this is a condition known as metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions that increase your risk of diabetes and includes excess visceral fat, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Nuts are low in carbs and have a low glycemic index, which makes them ideal for those who have multiple risk factors.

One study on people with metabolic syndrome showed that consuming one ounce of pistachios two times a day resulted in a nine percent decrease in blood sugar. Nuts are excellent anti-inflammatory foods.

Chronic inflammation is the cause of some of the most challenging diseases, including diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. Recent studies show that eating nuts may be an easy way to reduce this inflammation and even promote healthy aging. One study showed evidence linking nut consumption with a lowered risk of neurological disorders and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s. The fiber and mineral content of nuts attributed to these results.

The Mediterranean diet is known for its inclusion of nuts, and according to one study, people following this diet had a 35 to 90 percent decrease in inflammatory markers. Nuts can reduce inflammation in those with kidney disease, diabetes, and other conditions.

Rich in Fiber

Fiber is one of the must-haves when it comes to healthy digestion and weight loss. Not only does fiber aid in digestion, but fiber helps you feel full for longer, which in turn reduces the number of calories you consume in a day. According to one study, upping fiber intake from 18 to 36 grams can result in up to 130 fewer calories absorbed. In terms of fiber content, almonds are the highest, with 3.5 grams per ounce, followed by pistachios, hazelnuts, and pecans, all with 2.9 grams per ounce.

Lower Risk of Stroke and Other Heart Issues

It is not only your palate that loves nuts – your heart does so too! Studies have linked the reduced risk of heart disease and stroke with consumption of nuts. This is probably due to their ability to reduce the LDL cholesterol levels and increase the HDL levels.

Nuts and Weight Loss

So we know all the health benefits that nuts have to offer, but can they specifically help with weight loss? Several studies say yes!

One study involving 65 overweight individuals examined the difference between low-calorie diets that included almonds to one that focused on complex carbs. All the participants ate the same amount of calories, protein, and cholesterol. Still, after 24 weeks, those on the almond diet had a 62 percent reduction in weight. Also, their waist circumference had a 50 percent reduction, and they experienced a 56 percent reduction in fat mass.

Boost Weight Loss

Another study showed how snacking on nuts affected feelings of satiety and reduced hunger. Over 200 people ate peanuts as a snack, and then their calorie consumption examined. The study found that snacking on peanuts resulted in lower calorie consumption throughout the day. This effect is probably because of the high protein levels and high unsaturated fat levels in peanuts.

Reduce Appetite and Increase Satiety

Another study evaluated the effect of peanut oil on energy expenditure. In the study, lean and overweight individuals had a daily peanut oil intake in the form of a milkshake. After eight weeks, the obese group had a five percent increase in calorie burning. A similar study discovered that consuming a meal containing walnuts resulted in a 28 percent increase in calorie burning.

Enhance Fat and Calorie Burning

If you are wondering if overeating nuts could jeopardize your weight loss, then you can relax. According to a study that examined the more than 8,000 men and women in a Mediterranean diet, researchers found no connection between high nut consumption and weight gain.

Although nuts have high-calorie content, the difference is that some of the nutrients, including fat, are not absorbed by the blood. This is why nuts are weight-loss friendly. Studies show that whole nuts caused a higher amount of fat excreted in feces compared to peanut butter or peanut oil. This means that, to get the most benefits of nuts, it is best to eat them whole.

Those who consumed more nuts had a lower risk of weight gain. Other studies show the same results: consuming different types of nuts in large portions did not cause any change in body weight. Even when people continued to eat their regular diets and added nuts, there was no difference in their weight.

Nuts to Incorporate in Your Diet

So we’ve talked all about how healthy nuts are and how they can help you succeed in your weight loss journey, but now the question remains: which nuts are the healthiest? Here is our list of seven of the best nuts for weight loss.

Pistachios

As you may have noticed, we have mentioned pistachios quite a few times in our discussion of the benefits of different nuts. There is a good reason why pistachios are among the top healthy nuts you need to add to your diet. First of all, pistachios can lower cholesterol levels by reducing LDL and increasing HDL. Another benefit of these nuts is that they can help reduce heart risk and lower blood sugar levels after a meal.

Almonds

A handful of almonds has only 14 grams of fat and 37 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin E. Studies show that eating a diet that includes almonds can lower harmful cholesterol levels and total cholesterol levels, which is essential to heart health.

A study tried to compare the health benefits of almonds versus complex carbs in weight reduction and found that an almond rich diet caused more significant weight reduction. Additional benefits of almonds include lower blood pressure and sugar levels.

Cashews

Cashews are one of the tree nuts that are rich in nutrients and vitamins. One serving of 28 grams of cashews contains up to 20 percent of the RDA of magnesium along with 5 grams of protein. A diet rich in cashew nuts can lower blood pressure and increase HDL cholesterol. Also, further research shows that a diet with 20 percent of calories derived from cashews improved the blood pressure of people with metabolic syndrome.

Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia nuts are not only rich in a wide range of nutrients, but they also contain healthy monounsaturated fat. This high concentration of healthy fats is what makes the nuts very healthy. Like almonds, cashews, and pistachios, macadamia nuts can reduce the total cholesterol and LDL levels of those who have high cholesterol. Additional benefits of these nuts include reduced risk for heart disease and inflammation.

Peanuts

Although not tree nuts, peanuts have the same level of nutrition as other nuts. One ounce of roasted peanuts has 176 calories and up to 21 percent of the RDI for vitamin E and 11 percent of the RDI for magnesium. Peanut products, including peanut butter, also contain the same level of nutrients. In one study, women who ate peanut butter more than five times a week had lower rates of type 2 diabetes.

Brazil Nuts

These unique nuts are from a tree in Amazon and are known for their high levels of selenium. Selenium acts as an antioxidant and is necessary for several bodily functions. A single serving or one ounce of Brazil nuts is enough to provide you with all your dietary needs of selenium. Studies also show that Brazil nuts can reduce cholesterol levels and promote healthy blood vessel function. Additional health benefits of these nuts include reduced inflammation.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are also very nutritious and known for their ability to reduce the risk of heart disease. One study showed that a diet rich in hazelnuts had lowered LDL levels. When participants returned to their regular diet, excluding hazelnuts, the benefits reversed. Researchers concluded that incorporating hazelnuts into a daily diet is the best way to reap profits.

How to Add Nuts to Your Diet Plan

Nuts are one of the foods you can snack on even when you are on a diet. However, to get the most of your nuts, you need to know how to incorporate them into your diet plan. Here are some exciting ideas you can follow to get all the goodness of nuts in your diet:

Sprinkle some chopped nuts on pasta.

If you’re on a low-carb diet, you may want to replace traditional pasta with some other healthy alternative, like zucchini noodles, rice pasta, or squash noodles. But there is something else you can do to make your pasta meal even healthier – top it with some chopped nuts. You don’t want to go crazy with nuts, but add just enough to give that dish some extra flavor.

Grind nuts into a powder and add it to shakes.

This is probably one of the most practical things you can do to make sure you get the most of your nuts. Use a food processor to grind your favorite nuts into a powder, and add this to shakes, smoothies. or even salads. Ground nuts can easily be stored in the refrigerator and used for a long time. Sprinkle the ground nuts on your sandwiches, and continue to experiment with your powdered nuts.

Make a nutty breakfast cereal.

Cereals, in general, may not be the best idea for weight loss, but if you are going to have a bowl, make it a healthy one by adding nuts. Nuts like pecans can bring a sweet flavor while providing just enough sweetness. You can even mix nuts with dried fruit like raisins for an even healthier cereal.

Add nuts to pancakes, waffles, or muffins.

You can convert a ‘not so healthy’ dish like pancakes into something healthier by merely adding some nuts. Whether you prefer larger nuts or want to use a powdered form, adding nuts to waffles or pancakes is easy and effective.

Combine nuts with popcorn for a snack.

Popcorn is already one of the safest meals if you are on a diet, so adding nuts just adds to its value. Experiment with your popcorn bowl by adding different kinds of seeds and nuts, and enjoy the next movie night guilt-free.

Make side dishes with nuts.

The great thing about nuts is that they are so versatile. You can use them for dessert, as a topping, or even as a side dish. Try different combinations and use your creativity. For example, combining brown rice, chopped pecans, almonds, peas, carrots, and green beans makes a healthy, tasty side dish.

Enjoy them with some fruit.

Have you tried eating your favorite fruit with a handful of nuts? We can assure you that you will be pleasantly surprised! Nuts taste great combined with fruits like bananas and apples, so take a handful to work and enjoy a healthy mid-afternoon snack.

Give salads a crunch with nuts.

Instead of cooking up your croutons to add to your mixture, use some nuts. Not only are nuts a healthier alternative, but they go very well with almost any salad. As we said, it’s all about creativity, and you can never go wrong with nuts.

Make a nut butter sandwich.

All you need is your favorite healthy bread and nut butter to create a fantastic breakfast or snack. If you prefer, you can even use finely chopped nuts with low-fat mayo and some green olives to create a low-calorie sandwich.

Top fish or chicken with some nuts.

Salmon dishes in particular go very well with nuts. You can create a tasty meal of walnut-crusted salmon by using three tablespoons of finely chopped walnuts, crushed whole wheat bread, and thyme as a coating. Then, press this combination into your salmon. and bake it for up to 15 minutes.

Top up healthy yogurt with some peanuts.

Yogurt is excellent as a snack if you are on a diet, and adding a few peanuts can give it that unique flavor and added nutrition. You can also add peanuts to your favorite home-made fruit ice-cream for a healthy treat that even the kids will love.

Healthy Nutty Recipes

Banana Bread Recipe

All you need for this recipe are overripe bananas, coconut oil, coconut flour, walnuts, rolled oats, vanilla extract, honey, applesauce, and almond milk. This bread is easy to make and, with the addition of nuts, is a perfect solution for breakfast, snack, or even dessert.

No-Bake Pistachio Cookies

This is an excellent option if you don’t have an oven or just want a simple snack. Pistachio cookies made by combining water, moringa powder, maple syrup, gluten-free rolled oats, cashews, almond butter, vanilla, coconut oil, pistachios, and unsweetened shredded coconut. These cookies offer a dessert that is packed with nutrition and perfect for snacks.

No-Bake Granola Bars

This nutritious snack is convenient and combines the nutrition of seeds and nuts. Ingredients for granola bars include sunflower seeds, agave syrup, dark chocolate, gluten-free rolled oats, peanut butter, pistachios, flaxseed meal, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. It only takes 15 minutes to make and can be kept in the fridge for weeks.

Adding Nuts to Your Diet

Nuts are one of the power foods that you should include in your diet. Not only do they have a wide range of nutrients, but they can boost your fat burning capacity and aid in weight loss. The protein content in most nuts also keeps you feeling full throughout the day, which prevents constant snacking.

Adding nuts to your diet is very easy. It can be done by including healthy nuts in your salad dressing, dessert toppings, shakes, and smoothies. However you choose to eat your nuts, you don’t have to worry about gaining weight.

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