Obesity and overweight are conditions that are increasingly being observed in the world population. The problem is not aesthetic but is due to the fact that the extra pounds are linked, in the long term, to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cellular degeneration. So how can you fight overweight? Certainly with a healthy and varied diet and an active lifestyle. And dried fruit, such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts and hazelnuts, is considered a caloric food, and therefore to be avoided, or can it be beneficial? Well, walnuts and almonds seem able to even help reduce the waistline and the amount of body fat. This emerges from a very recent review published in Nutrients magazine thanks to the work of a Spanish and Brazilian team (Fernandez Rodriguez et al, Nutrients, 2021).
The properties of dried fruit
The term dried fruit refers to walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, Brazil nuts, peanuts and pecans. Dried fruit is characterized by the presence of unsaturated fatty acids, protective for the heart, but also fiber, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. Therefore, these are nutrient-rich foods. However, dried fruit is also caloric, so several studies have been dedicated to understand its effects in case of obesity and overweight.
Dried fruit and overweight, the study
With the aim of putting all the research in order and understanding the role of dried fruit in case of extra pounds, the researchers analyzed the results of 105 previous studies that had compared the effects of a diet rich in dried fruit on body weight, body mass index, waist circumference and body fat percentage.
Almonds and walnuts against extra pounds
What emerges is that, in general, dried fruit does not lead to any increase in either body weight, waist circumference or even the percentage of fat. The only exception is hazelnuts, which instead leads to an increase in the waistline. Therefore, consuming nuts does not increase the risk of being overweight and obese. In addition, almonds and walnuts have even shown the ability to help treat obesity. In fact, a diet rich in almonds is able to lead to a reduction in the waistline while walnuts lead to a reduction in body fat. It is believed that the fibers present in almonds and walnuts slow down the absorption of food and therefore are able to keep sugars, fats and hunger under control. In addition, the polyphenols and fibers present mainly in the outermost layers of almonds and walnuts act as antioxidants, antimicrobials, antivirals and prebiotics, nourishing the good bacteria of the intestinal microbiota. The microbiota is the set of bacteria in the intestine and not only has the function of promoting digestion but its balance determines the balance of the entire organism, strengthening the defenses and also counteracting obesity.
Dried fruit for a healthy diet
So, for those who want to prevent obesity and overweight, for those who want to reduce the waistline but also for those who want to bring benefits to the immune system and the microbiota, green light for nuts, especially walnuts and almonds!