If you like to snack on walnuts, feel free to toss a serving into your cereal or add them to your smoothies to get the health benefits from the omega-3 fats and other essential nutrients they provide. Walnuts don't increase your risk for weight gain and may make it easier for you to stick to a low-calorie diet until you reach your weight-loss goal.
Walnuts and Weight
While walnuts might not cause weight loss, they do make you less likely to gain weight. A study published in January 2010 in "Obesity" found that eating nuts at least twice a week is associated with a lower risk of weight gain than not eating nuts. Walnuts were the type of nut eaten most often by people in the study, who also ate peanuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
Although walnuts are high in calories, with 185 calories per 1-ounce serving, or 14 halves, they don't lead to weight gain when you eat them in moderation. Potential reasons for this include that nuts are very filling, not all of the calories from them are absorbed and they increase the amount of energy you burn while you are resting, according to an article published in "The Journal of Nutrition" in September 2008.
People on a diet who eat nuts tend to get more nutrients than those who eat other snack foods containing a similar amount of calories, according to a study published in "The Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism" in 2011. Study participants consumed more healthy unsaturated fats and vitamin E and less unhealthy saturated fat. Walnuts also contain a significant amount of a type of antioxidant called polyphenols, as well as the minerals manganese, copper and magnesium. Polyphenols help limit cell damage from free radicals and manganese is essential for regulating blood sugar and brain and nerve function. You need copper for forming red blood cells and magnesium for proper kidney, heart and muscle function. Since it can be hard to get enough of these nutrients while trying to lose weight, adding walnuts or other nuts to your diet is a beneficial strategy for increasing the nutrient content of your diet.
People find it easier to stick with diets that include a moderate amount of fat from healthy sources like nuts and olive oil compared to low-fat diets, according to the 2007 "Obesity" article. Including walnuts or other nuts in your diet may also lead to more pounds lost, probably due at least in part to a willingness to stay on the diet longer.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Nuts, Walnuts, English
- Obesity: Nut Consumption and Weight Gain in a Mediterranean Cohort: The SUN Study
- Food and Function: Nuts, Especially Walnuts, Have Both Antioxidant Quantity and Efficacy and Exhibit Significant Potential Health Benefits
- Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism: Nuts Improve Diet Quality Compared to Other Energy-Dense Snacks While Maintaining Body Weight
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.