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Eat For Health: Eating Seeds and Nuts To Lose Weight

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:14pm

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

If you are significantly overweight and want to maximize your weight loss, you should limit your intake of seeds, nuts and avocados to one (one ounce) serving a day since they are calorie-rich. However, you should not exclude these healthy, high-fat foods completely from your diet. It may seem illogical to include such high fat foods in your diet (since fat is 9 calories a gram compared with 4 calories a gram for carbohydrates and protein) however epidemiological studies show an inverse relationship between seed and nut consumption and body weight. Interestingly, these studies show including some seeds and nuts in your diet actually aids in appetite suppression and weight loss. Well-controlled trials that looked to see if eating nuts and seeds resulted in weight gain, found the opposite—eating raw nuts and seeds promoted weight loss, not weight gain.1 Because seeds and nuts are rich in minerals and fiber and have a low glycemic index, they are favorable foods to include in a diet designed for diabetics and even the obese. Researchers noted that people eating one ounce of nuts five times a week reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 27 percent.2

There is another important reason to include nuts and seeds in your diet as you lose weight and that is they prevent the formation of gallstones. Weight loss in general can increase one’s risk of gallstone formation and certainly that is a reasonable risk to take when one considers the ill health and life-threatening effects from significant body fat. It is important to note, as reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, when over 80,000 women were followed for 20 years it was found that the regular consumption of nuts and seeds offered dramatic protection against gallstone formation. These findings have been duplicated in men too.3

The health properties of nuts and seeds notwithstanding, it is important that you do not overeat them. Don’t sit in front of the TV and eat an entire bag of nuts in an hour. Healthful eating means avoiding excessive calories and not eating for recreation. Besides being aware of the amount of seeds and nuts consumed, the only other modification that one needs to make to maximize weight loss in a plant-based diet is to limit the consumption of flour-containing baked goods and oils. Your carbohydrate consumption should come mostly from fresh fruit, squashes, carrots, peas and beans, not bread; and of course your fat consumption should come from seeds and nuts, not oils.

1. Rajaram S, Sabat AJ. Nuts, body weight and insulin resistance.Br J Nutr 2006;96 Suppl 2:S79 S86. Sabat ÃJ. Nut consumption and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78(3 Suppl):647S-650S. Bes-Rastrollo M, Sabat ÃJ, Gamez-Gracia E, et al. Nut consumption and weight gain in a Mediterranean cohort: The SUN study. Obesity 2007;15(1):107-116. Garc-a-Lorda P, Megias Rangil I, Salas-Salvada J. Nut consumption, body weight and insulin resistance. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57 Suppl 1:S8-11. Meg-as-Rangil I, Garc-a-Lorda P, Torres-Moreno M, et al. Nutrient content and health effects of nuts. Arch Latinoam Nutr 2004;54(2 Suppl 1):83-86.

2 Lovejoy JC. The impact of nuts on diabetes and diabetes risk.Curr Diab Rep 2005; 5(5):379-84. Jiang R, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Liu S, Willett WC, Hu FB. Nut and peanut butter consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. JAMA 2002; 288(20):2554-2560.

3. Tsai CJ, Leitzmann MF, Hu FB, Willett WC, Giovannucci EL. Frequent nut consumption and decreased risk of cholecystectomy in women. Am J Clin Nutr 2004; 80(1):76-81. Tsai Cj, Leitzmann Me, Hu FB, et al. A prospective cohort study of nut consumption and the risk of gallstone disease in men. Am J Epid 2004;160(10):961-968.

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