It's Full of Fat and Helps You Lose Weight

Nuts are chocked full of healthy nutrients. Knowing how to make them part of your diet can help you reap all kinds of health benefits.

By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

For years, savvy dieters have shunned nuts because of their high-fat content. But dieters can rejoice. The heart-healthy fats, high fiber, and phytochemical content of nuts have catapulted these nutritious nuggets into health food heaven. The key is portion control.

Over the past several years, numerous studies have shown the healthful nature of nuts. Nuts are a powerhouse of good nutrition, packed with protein, fiber, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, copper, and antioxidants. And they help reduce the risks of heart disease and diabetes and help control weight.

Good Fats

Bad fats that pose health problems come primarily from saturated and trans fats, neither of which are found in most nuts. Instead, most nuts are loaded with good fats: -- monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Some nuts, such as walnuts, boast a rich source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, similar to salmon.

In July 2003, the FDA approved the first qualified health claim. Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease, the FDA says.

Packaging for walnuts, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios can now proudly make this claim. Cashews and macadamia nuts did not qualify for the health claim due to their higher fat content.