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It’s Time to Go Nuts for Nuts!

Fats are one of the most misunderstood food groups when it comes to health and weight. These days many people think anything that isn’t labelled “no fat” or “low fat” is unhealthy and fattening.

Nuts are a great example of this.

Study after study shows that people aren’t eating the recommended 1- to 1.5-ounces of nuts daily. In fact, the large majority of people aren’t eating any nuts at all!

And do you know why people are avoiding nuts?

One of the top reasons is because a lot of folks are confused about the effect nuts have on body weight. For example, among a group of adults at risk for cardiovascular disease and/or type 2 diabetes, 87% of them believed eating nuts would cause weight gain.

Another reason high on the list is a concern that the fat content of nuts is unhealthy.                                                                                           

Well, I have some great news for you!

Eating nuts not only does NOT lead to weight gain, they actually appear to help with weight control. As a matter of fact, people who enjoy nuts regularly tend to have lower body mass, better waist to hip ratios and greater weight loss than those who don’t eat them.

That’s because nuts are loaded with healthy fats. So when you replace foods high in saturated fat (or snacks high in refined carbs) with nuts, it does your body good!

Go Nuts for Better Health

A study out of Vanderbilt University Medical Center recently shows just how powerful swapping out a high carb snack like pretzels or graham crackers for a handful of nuts can be over a four-month time period.

The study revolved around individuals who had at least one metabolic syndrome risk factor. This included things like high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat or abnormal cholesterol levels.

Without making any other dietary changes, one group of people was asked to eat an ounce of mixed, unsalted tree nuts twice a day for 16 weeks. A second group was designated unsalted pretzels or graham crackers.

The results?

Those in the tree nut group…

  • Reduced metabolic syndrome risk by 67% in women and 42% in men.
  • Had no change of body weight over the study period. However, in women, the nuts led to a reduced waist circumference (i.e., less belly fat).
  • Improved lipid profiles and, in men, reduced blood insulin levels.

This is all great news, but that’s not all there is to say about nuts

Try Them All!

Tree nuts like Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios are a great source of protein. They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytosterols and other compounds that fuel your body and protect against disease.

Plus, they can have a profound effect on your gut microbiome, endothelial function, blood pressure and inflammation markers. They can even help improve brainwave activity.

However, there’s one nut you should avoid at all costs.

It’s called the peanut.

Believe it or not, this food isn’t even a nut. It’s a legume. And these crunchy treats are one of the top allergens in the world today. Peanuts also contain proteins that are resistant to digestion and are considered toxic.

Even worse, peanuts contain aflatoxin, a natural toxin produced by certain strains of mold. Aflatoxin is a carcinogen that’s been shown to cause cancer in rats.

Instead, choose Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and other tree nuts. Buy organic, unsalted brands… and enjoy them every day.

I like all of them, so I usually buy mixed nuts. But other times, I’ll just grab a bag of one type of nut or another and mix them up myself.

With all of the wonderful things nuts can do for you, there is no reason not to eat a hand full of them daily. Add them to your salads. Sprinkle them over your veggies. Use them as a breading for your fish or meat dishes.

You’d be nuts if you didn’t.


Neale EP, Tran G, Brown RC. Barriers and Facilitators to Nut Consumption: A Narrative Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec 7;17(23):9127.

Sumislawski K, Widmer A, Suro RR, Robles ME, Lillegard K, Olson D, Koethe JR, Silver HJ. Consumption of Tree Nuts as Snacks Reduces Metabolic Syndrome Risk in Young Adults: A Randomized Trial. Nutrients. 2023 Dec 9;15(24):5051.

de Souza RGM, Schincaglia RM, Pimentel GD, Mota JF. Nuts and Human Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017 Dec 2;9(12):1311.