I recently came across a study focused on obesity and peanuts run by three Texas institutions of higher education. They were looking at Hispanic middle school children who were at high risk for becoming overweight or obese, and compared a group that received peanuts as a snack against a group that did not.
Over 24 weeks, half of the students in the study received a snack of peanuts (or peanut butter) three to four times a week, while the others received the same snack less than once a week. Peanuts were chosen as nutrient-dense food that make people feel full. One reason that adolescents are prone to overweight and obesity is that they are more likely to snack, which has to do with several factors, including bad eating habits and unstructured time.
The outcome: students who ate peanuts more regularly experienced a sharper decrease in their overall body mass index. But even the students who ate peanuts less regularly experienced a decrease.
For those of us who are big proponents of nuts, which you can find at our own Nuts to You store in the Market at the Fareway, as well as at other Philadelphia produce markets, this is no big surprise. Nuts have huge nutritional value and are super filling; so if eaten regularly as a snack in small quantities, you can gain great nutrition while also eating less. They have also been linked to lower cholesterol and better heart health.
Here are a few other nut suggestions that you might consider for a snack:
- Walnuts contain the most antioxidants of all nuts, helping protect your body from cellular damage that contributes to heart disease, cancer, and premature aging. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which fight inflammation.
- Almonds are full of fiber and rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. They are also helpful for controlling weight, and are especially good for people who are worried about their blood sugar.
- Cashews are particularly rich in iron and zinc. “Iron helps deliver oxygen to all of your cells, which can prevent anemia, and zinc is critical to immune health and healthy vision,” says Bauer. Cashews are also a good source of magnesium: One ounce provides almost 25 percent of your daily need. Magnesium may help improve memory and protect against age-related memory loss, according to a study in the journal Neuron.Cashews are rich in iron and zinc. They are also rich in magnesium, which may help improve memory and protect against age-related memory loss.
- Pecans aren’t just for making tasty pies, they can also help improve your heart health. “Pecans are among the most antioxidant-rich nuts,” says Bauer. “They may help prevent plaque formation in your arteries.” In fact, a Journal of Nutrition study (funded partly by the National Pecan Shellers Association) found that consuming pecans can help lower LDL cholesterol levels by as much as 33 percent. Pecans may also buffer your brain health, according to an animal study from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The vitamin E found in the nuts could delay progression of degenerative neurological diseases like amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.Pecans can help improve heart health. They are the most antioxidant-rich nuts and may help prevent plaque formation in arteries. Pecans may also help lower certain cholesterol levels and support better brain health.
- Pistachios are the most slimming nuts, with less than four calories each. Their shells make them especially dieting-friendly: “Eating them in the shell automatically slows down your pace so the snack lasts longer and you eat less overall,” says Bauer. They may also help you breathe easier: University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers found that eating two ounces of pistachios daily may reduce lung cancer risk. Pistachios are rich in the antioxidant gamma-tocopherol, a form of cancer-fighting vitamin E. Pistachios are also packed with potassium, a mineral essential for a healthy nervous system and muscles, and are a good source of vitamin B6, which can lift your mood, fortify your immune system, and more.Pistachios are great for weight control, with less than four calories per nut. Their shells also make them dieting-friendly. If they need to be shelled, it slows down the rate at which they are consumed. Pistachios are packed with potassium, which is essential for a healthy nervous system and muscles. They are also a strong source of vitamin B6, which can improve your mood and fortify your immune system.
University of Houston