Nuts Mixed in a wooden plate.Assortment, Walnuts,Pecan,Almonds,Hazelnuts,Cashews,Pistachios.Concept of Healthy Eating.Vegetarian.selective focus.

Mixed nuts (© lily_rocha - stock.adobe.com)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Want to lose weight? Just eat more nuts! Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have found that simply adding tree nuts to one’s diet can lead to significant health improvements without the need to cut calories. The study authors note that this is especially encouraging news for young adults concerned about metabolic syndrome (MetSx), a cluster of conditions that raise the risk for heart disease and diabetes.

In this study, 84 young adults between 22 and 36 years-old, mostly overweight or obese, participated in a controlled dietary experiment. They were divided into two groups: one consumed one ounce of various unsalted tree nuts twice daily, while the other group ate a carbohydrate-rich snack of equal caloric value. This experiment continued for 16 weeks.

The results were striking. Women who snacked on tree nuts showed a notable decrease in waist size and a tendency towards reduced visceral fat, the harmful fat stored around the abdominal organs.

Men in the nut group experienced significant drops in blood insulin levels. Both genders showed improvements in lipid profiles, specifically in triglycerides and TG/HDL ratios, which are critical markers for heart health.

“When we assessed the effect of tree nut snacks on individual MetSx scores (calculated by assigning 1 point for each metabolic syndrome risk factor),” says study principal investigator Dr. Heidi J. Silver, research professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, in a media release. “We observed a 67 percent reduction in MetSx score in females and a 42 percent reduction in MetSx score in males.”

Variety of tree nuts
(© vaaseenaa – stock.adobe.com)

The importance of these findings is underscored by the increasing prevalence of MetSx among American young adults, which now stands at 21.3 percent.

“We know that snacking contributes almost 25 percent of total daily calories in young adults in the U.S.,” explains Dr. Silver. “Substituting typical high carbohydrate snacks with tree nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) would likely have a positive impact in reducing the risk of metabolic syndrome and its consequences in this age group.”

Previous research has already established the benefits of tree nuts in combating chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

“With MetSx and its various risk factors on the rise worldwide, this is yet another reason to include tree nuts in your diet,” says Maureen Ternus, executive director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation. “In 2003, the FDA (in its qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease) recommended that people eat 1.5 ounces of nuts per day—well above current consumption levels. We need to encourage people—especially those Millennials at risk for MetSx—to get their handful of nuts every day.”

The study is published in the journal Nutrients.

You might also be interested in: 

About StudyFinds Staff

StudyFinds sets out to find new research that speaks to mass audiences — without all the scientific jargon. The stories we publish are digestible, summarized versions of research that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. StudyFinds Staff articles are AI assisted, but always thoroughly reviewed and edited by a Study Finds staff member. Read our AI Policy for more information.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor