Nuts have long been touted for their great nutritional profile, high levels of inflammation-killing antioxidants, and good amounts of fiber. (Also: They taste really good.) A lot of nutritionists and food scientists, however, have cautioned that chowing down on too many energy-dense nuts too often can derail weight loss goals, considering most nuts are packed with lots of fats (even if they are “good fats”).
But fear not the nut: Eating nuts regularly is linked to less weight gain and a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese, according to new research from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health and the International Agency for Research on Cancer. (The study pulled data from more than 370,000 Europeans ages 25 to 70 enrolled in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition over a five-year period.)
Better yet, eating nuts also conferred even more health benefits: Better memory function, less aging in older study participants, and a 5% lower risk of getting fat. The nuts analyzed in this study included almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts (which, to be fair, are not strictly nuts but rather legumes, although they are also relatively high in fat).
“To me, this confirms that nuts are not an obesogenic [obesity-producing] food,” said Joan Sabaté, M.D., Dr.P.H., director of the Center for Nutrition, Lifestyle, and Disease Prevention at the university. “Eat nuts during your meal. Put them at the center of your plate to replace animal products. They’re very satiating.”