- Eating one ounce of nuts daily can result in more significant weight loss while on a reduced-calorie diet.
- Nuts contain many beneficial properties, like plant protein, healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients. These can play a role in reducing the risk of numerous chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes.
- Each type of nut offers different benefits, so it’s important to keep your health goals in mind while selecting the best nut for you.
It’s common for people to avoid eating nuts while attempting weight loss due to their calorie density and fat content. However, research shows that including nuts in your diet can actually help your weight loss efforts.
Nuts are also linked to other health benefits, like improved cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels. Each type of nut is slightly different. For example, Brazil nuts may benefit thyroid health, while walnuts are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Keep reading to learn more about the best nuts for weight loss and the health benefits of nuts.
Why Are Nuts Good for Weight Management?
It may seem counterintuitive for nuts to be beneficial for weight loss because they are high in calories and fat. On average, nuts contain 170 calories and 15 grams of fat per one-ounce serving. One ounce of nuts equals approximately one-quarter cup, or a small handful.
Studies on body weight and nut consumption found that including nuts in a reduced-calorie eating plan was correlated with greater weight loss results and reduced insulin resistance. Experts suggest that eating one ounce of nuts daily can help prevent obesity and assist with weight loss attempts.
Nut consumption has also been found to be helpful for weight management. Although many people gain weight gradually over time, research has identified that people who eat nuts at least twice a week experience fewer weight increases with aging.
Nuts are rich in heart-healthy fats, plant proteins, and fiber. This combination of nutrients helps you feel full longer by delaying the rate of digestion. The type of fiber in nuts helps support gut health, which in turn can reduce inflammation and may play a role in moderating the risk of metabolic disease and obesity.
Interestingly, studies have found that people who regularly eat nuts have lower amounts of red meat and simple carbohydrates in their diet. High intakes of red meat and refined carbohydrates are associated with weight gain over time. The presence of nuts in the diet replaces some of these foods, which helps contribute to weight loss.
In addition, nuts contain other beneficial compounds like antioxidants and plant sterols, which may reduce the risk of chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Nuts are good sources of essential micronutrients like vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, zinc, vitamin B6, and phosphorus, making them a nutrient-dense addition to your diet.
To receive personalized guidance on healthy weight loss and improving the nutritional quality of your diet, consider booking a virtual consultation with a registered dietitian with Nourish.
The 8 Best Nuts for Weight Loss
Each type of nut consists of different nutrient compositions and health benefits, so you may wonder which are the best nuts for weight loss. Nut intake in general is associated with improved weight loss efforts. The best nuts for weight loss will be those you are most likely to include consistently in your diet.
Though nuts contain similar amounts of macronutrients, their fat composition, along with their vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant contents, vary, influencing their impact on human health.
For reference, a one-ounce portion of almonds contains:
- 170 calories.
- 6 grams of protein.
- 15 grams of fat.
- 6 grams of carbohydrates.
- 3 grams of fiber.
Research on almonds and body weight has found that eating almonds daily does not lead to weight gain, even with portions containing over 400 calories. Because of the enhanced satiety, people tend to be less hungry and therefore eat less later in the day.
A reduced-calorie diet that includes almonds may improve the amount of fat mass lost. In addition, eating almonds instead of a snack rich in refined carbohydrates has been shown to result in improved body composition.
Studies show that regular almond consumption can help reduce levels of LDL cholesterol (the harmful type of cholesterol). Almonds may also result in lower post-meal blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Cashews are a popular snacking nut and have been linked with lower total and LDL cholesterol counts in people with elevated cholesterol. However, more research is needed on the benefits of cashews for other health conditions.
Like many nuts, cashews are a good source of plant protein, unsaturated fats, fiber, and iron, among other vitamins and minerals.
While general nut intake is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, walnuts are particularly potent in reducing this risk. One study found that eating two servings of walnuts weekly was associated with a 15–21% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
Walnuts also contain significantly higher levels of polyunsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to benefit cardiometabolic health and reduce inflammation. Specifically, a diet rich in walnuts has been shown to result in improved LDL cholesterol numbers.
Research shows eating pistachios twice daily can reduce blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and body mass index in people with type 2 diabetes. In addition, pistachio intake has been linked with improved cholesterol levels and reduced inflammation.
These benefits have been primarily noted with intakes of 25–84 grams of pistachios per day, which is equivalent to portions between one-quarter cup and three-quarters of a cup.
Including hazelnuts in a weight-loss diet has been shown to improve dietary quality and help people adhere to their eating plan. In addition, one study from 2013 found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented by one ounce of mixed nuts (including hazelnuts) daily reduced cardiac risk and improved cholesterol levels.
Brazil nuts are rich in the trace mineral and antioxidant selenium, with just one to two nuts providing over 100% of your daily selenium needs. Selenium is an essential micronutrient for thyroid function and metabolism.
Eating Brazil nuts has also been associated with improved blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol and blood pressure.
Pecans are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols (beneficial plant compounds) containing anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, including pecans in your diet at least five times per week in the context of a heart-healthy diet can improve cholesterol levels.
Studies show that including peanuts in a weight-loss diet results in greater weight reduction as well as improvements in body composition and fat burning capabilities. Peanut consumption has not been linked to weight gain, even with larger daily portions, like almost three-quarters of a cup.
Both peanuts and peanut butter have been shown to be protective against heart disease due to their content of unsaturated fats, vitamin E, niacin, and magnesium. Research also shows peanut consumption can lead to reduced carbohydrate intake, improved blood sugar levels after meals, and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and peanuts are among the best nuts for weight loss. However, all nuts are beneficial due to their balance of healthy fats, plant proteins, fiber, and micronutrients, so varying your choice of nuts will benefit your overall health. Additionally, nuts help you stay satisfied for longer and can replace less nutritious foods in your diet.
Further benefits on cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation levels make adding nuts to your diet a nutritious choice regardless of whether you’re pursuing weight loss.
Managing Weight Loss with a Dietitian
If you are attempting weight loss, working with a registered dietitian will ensure you receive the most up-to-date information to manage your weight healthily.
At Nourish, we focus on the root cause of your health concerns rather than recommending quick fixes. Focusing on adding nutrition (like nuts!) to your diet, rather than taking foods away, helps you feel less restricted and makes long-lasting change easier. All appointments are conducted virtually, and most of our patients pay $0 out of pocket when using insurance. Book your first appointment.
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