Nut consumption and body weight.Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 09; 78(3 Suppl):647S-650S.AJ
Frequent nut consumption is associated with lower rates of coronary artery disease (CAD). Also, nut-rich diets improve the serum lipid profile of participants in dietary intervention trials. However, nuts are fatty foods, and in theory their regular consumption may lead to body weight gain. Because obesity is a major public health problem and a risk factor for CAD, clinicians and policy makers ponder several questions. Will hypercholesterolemic patients advised to consume nuts gain weight? Is recommending increased nut consumption to the general population for CAD prevention sound public health advice? Epidemiologic studies indicate an inverse association between frequency of nut consumption and body mass index. In well-controlled nut-feeding trials, no changes in body weight were observed. Some studies on free-living subjects in which no constraints on body weight are imposed show a nonsignificant tendency to lower weight while subjects are on the nut diets. In another line of evidence, preliminary data indicate that subjects on nut-rich diets excrete more fat in stools. Further research is needed to study the effects of nut consumption on energy balance and body weight. In the meantime, the available cumulative data do not indicate that free-living people on self-selected diets including nuts frequently have a higher body mass index or a tendency to gain weight.