Do Walnuts Make You Gain Stomach Fat?

Walnuts contain plenty of fat, but it's the good kind.

Walnuts contain plenty of fat, but it's the good kind.

Don't worry, those walnuts won't go straight to your waistline. However, eating too many of these high-fat goodies can lead to weight gain. Walnuts may make a healthy snack, but as with most things in life, moderation is key. Include them in a balanced diet that contains the right number of calories, and you'll have nothing to fear.

Walnuts and Weight

Walnuts are hardly light fare -- a 1-ounce serving packs in 185 calories and more than 18 grams of fat. However, the average woman needs 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day, depending on weight and activity level, so a serving won't bust your diet. To put things in perspective, it takes an excess of 3,500 calories to gain a pound of fat, which is about 19 servings of walnuts.

Abdominal Fat Loss

Most of the fat in walnuts is the polyunsaturated variety, which may actually help fight belly fat. In a study published in the journal "Diabetologia" in 2002, researchers placed diabetic subjects on two, five-week diets -- one diet was rich in saturated fat, and the other was rich in polyunsaturated fat. They found that, although there was no change in overall weight, subjects had lower levels of subcutaneous belly fat while on the polyunsaturated diet; insulin sensitivity and cholesterol levels also improved. Furthermore, you do need some fat in your diet, even when watching your weight. Fats help you feel satisfied, curbing hunger-fueled binges.

Avoiding Stomach Fat

A large waistline may be a sign of dangerous visceral fat deep in the abdomen. For women, a waist circumference of more than 35 inches spells trouble. This type of fat is more active than subcutaneous fat, contributing to diabetes, heart disease and even breast cancer. To keep visceral fat at bay, the Harvard School of Public Health recommends getting regular physical activity, eating a balanced diet, reducing stress and sleeping for about eight hours each night. It also suggests cutting out trans fats and choosing fat from plant sources such as walnuts to fight belly flab.

Walnuts and Health

Each ounce of walnuts contains 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which Tufts University School of Medicine reports may help prevent chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis while improving memory and mood. It also recommends eating seven to 11 grams of omega-3s per week -- the body doesn't produce this type of fat, so you must get it through food. Fish, nuts and seeds are the most potent omega-3 sources. Walnuts are also a good source of protein, with about 4.5 grams per ounce.

 

About the Author

Nina K. is a Los Angeles-based journalist who has been published by USAToday.com, Fitday.com, Healthy Living Magazine, Organic Authority and numerous other print and web publications. She has a philosophy degree from the University of Colorado and a journalism certificate from UCLA.

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