Do Nuts Help You Lose Weight?

Nobody can deny that nuts are full of calories. Usually, calorie dense foods make us gain weight. But it appears that eating nuts is not associated with weight gain, according to researchers Dr Mattes and Dr Emilio Ros.

How can a calorie-laden food like nuts not cause you to gain weight, but eve help you lose weight? Studies have shown that:

  • Nuts cause satiety. That means, the days you consume nuts, you end up eating less total calories overall during the day compared to the days you do not eat nuts. There is evidence that munching on something crunchy, like nuts, sends stronger satiety signals to our brain than when we eat softer foods.
  • Not all calories in nuts are absorbed by the human body. Much of the calorie content in nuts is released as undigested/unabsorbed material in our feces.
  • There is evidence that nuts increase our basic metabolism, which makes us burn more calories.

These are some of the mechanisms through which nuts contribute to a healthy weight. Some scientists have even studied how the human brain responds when we eat nuts, using MRI scans.

Nuts are so healthy and good for weight loss that big commercial food delivery programs have incorporated them in their food menu. Nutrisystem (learn about it  here) has for breakfast and snacks Harvest Nut Bar, Banana Nut Muffin, Chewy Peanut Bar, Coconut Almond Bar, and other nut-containing foods.

I just read this article about the nuts and weight loss.

What is your experience with nuts? Are they a weight loss aid indeed?



Armonk, ny

  • Are the almonds roasted? (Much more tasty, making them more liketly to be eaten and also abused.)
  • Are the almonds skinned? (less fiber, probably less staying power.)
  • Are the almonds salted? (pleasure factor)
  • What time of day are they prescribed?
  • How big is a handful? My hand? A woman’s size 6 1/2, or my Dad’s? he’s 6’4″…
  • What’s a serving size?

I want specifics.

Then I want it repeated w/ cashews, walnuts, pecans, pignolis.

Then I want an Almond. Joy.

Ross Williams, Grand Rapids, Minnesota

Lets be clear, scientists don’t choose their funders. Industries choose scientists to fund. They are careful to choose those that are likely to produce favorable results. The Almond Board would be in deep do-do with their members if it funded a study that contradicted the claim that eating almonds is healthy. That doesn’t mean he is wrong, but it does mean you need to talk to some researchers who aren’t on the Almond Board payroll. And if you can’t find any, you might wonder why.

Para, Geneva, Switzerland

I have been a nutty “nut” for years and have never tired on munching and consuming them

I am a healthy octogenarian physician and craving for nuts especially when I travel which I do frequently both internationally and domestic!
I await the results of the study with bated breath.! It is nice to have the evidence of their claimed effectiveness.

William Anderson, LMHC, Sarasota, FL

Nuts are one of the worst foods to suggest to overweight overeaters. They are calories “bombs”, among the most calorically dense foods that exist, and one of the top foods that overeaters identify as “addictive” foods. I am a therapist that specializes in weight loss, a former food addict, and I have 30 years of success helping people beat stubborn weight and overeating problems. Believe me, telling overeaters to eat nuts is like telling a spendaholic to go to the mall and charge up whatever looks good. It’s a prescription for disaster.

The brain scans of healthy people may not show what brain scans of overweight people show. A colleague and obesity researcher, Dr. Robert Pretlow, has published research showing that obese kids have the same type of brain activity when they are exposed to their favorite “snack” foods as cocaine addicts have when they are exposed to cocaine.

It may seem logical to that nuts should create satiety and help people lose weight, but for me and most of my clients, having a handful of nuts is a trigger to eat them until they’re gone, perhaps a 1000-1500 calorie event.

Theories are fun to contemplate, but I have 30 years of clinical experience and success with weight control. The best place for nuts, if you have a weight problem, is somewhere out of sight and out of mind.

William Anderson, LMHC, Licensed Counselor and Weight Control Expert
Author of “The Anderson Method – Secrets of Permanent Weight Loss”

It should not “stun” anyone that nuts are good for us They were a staple of the diet of the Neanderthals who then evolved to become humans who have brains that comprehend ideas such as that “stun” is “nuts” spelled backwards.

Philly2, Philadelphia

Well… people with tree nut allergies know they shouldn’t eat them and will probably skip reading this article.

In Reply to Mary S

The Pooch, Wendell, MA

Go figure–a whole food that is naturally high in fats and proteins is satiating? Shocking. Of course, this flies in the face of decades of officially-endorsed “low-fat” and “a calorie is a calorie” dogma.

Oh, and saturated fats from naturally-fatty whole foods have never been shown to cause heart disease, obesity, or any other health problem.

Arnold Offner, Newton, MA

This is potentially great news for fans of tree nuts and peanuts. These nuts are crunchy, tasty, filling, and altogether satisfying. If in fact they help to prevent certain debilitating diseases and give the person munching them a feeling of satiety, that will be a very welcome discovery. I would encourage replication of Dr. Mattes’ study, so that people who struggle to maintain optimal weight will have a guilt-free treat to chew on.

MD in NYC, New York, NY

Ugh, just about every dietary article still propagates the “fat is bad and makes you fat” fallacy. Sure, if you eat too much of anything it is bad. But fat is not the main culprit in weight gain. Sugar and simple carbs are.

Cheap Jim, Baltimore, Md.

Because everyone already knows.

In Reply to Mary S

Anne-Marie Hislop

I’m a life-long big fan of peanut butter (the plain nuts & salt kind, not that other crap with sugar etc.). It is filling, nutritious and far healthier than meat. When I eat pb, I will not be hungry again for hours. That, I think, is the point.

Rico, Baltimore

My personal experience over the last 6 months of eating .25 oz a day has been one of weight loss and then plateauing at a 10 pound loss level.
They are satiating and while not exactly practicing medicine without a license I believe they did nothing to hurt my mojo either…thanks to the zinc & selenium.

The Pooch, Wendell, MA

Eating a 1,000 calories of nuts in one sitting is a sign that your clients are not getting enough protein or fat from the other foods in their diets. The point of this study (and other similar studies) is that a whole food naturally dense in fats and proteins is inherently more satiating than the same amount of calories from junk food.

In Reply to William Anderson, LMHC

Lee F. Norwalk, CT

Maybe in SOME people, but not all people. I added nuts (macadamia, walnuts, almonds, cashews) to my diet when I switched from the low fat diet recommended for Type 2 diabetics to the low carbohydrate, high fat diet that actually works for T2 diabetics and have been losing weight even though my main goal is blood sugar control (A1C went from 8.4 to 5.5) — a secondary benefit. Eating nuts, especially macadamias, are satisfying and I tend to eat less food overall. It’s the sugar and the carbs that make you fat, not the fat in the nuts.

In Reply to William Anderson, LMHC

The Pooch, Wendell, MA

You’re assuming that caloric content is the most relevant thing to know in order to understand food. Lots of us maintain healthy body mass and avoid chronic disease by ignoring calories and focusing on nutritional quality of the food. E.g. high quality butters, chocolates, and meats have a lot of nutrients and are quite satiating, regardless of calories.

In Reply to Morth

Ashby, Los Angeles CA

When I went low carb I began eating tons of nuts. I’m sure I ate more in calories than I did normally, but I lost weight because I wasn’t eating sugars or carbs. If there is a weight loss component to eating nuts, it’s because you are eating nuts instead of potato chips, corn chips, office muffins, cookies and other carb rich snack foods. The actual calories aren’t as important as keeping your insulin levels low so you can burn fat. Taubes is right. Carbohydrates drives insulin, insulin drives obesity. The calories aren’t important.

Julie, ABQ

I suspect there is no “one size fits all” nutrition plan (pun intended.) Though your experience leads you to the conclusion that nuts are a binge food, my personal eperience was the opposite. I lost significant weight (50 pounds) on a diet that included nuts daily as a snack or part of a meal. When I altered the diet to cut out most of the nuts on the advice of nutritionist, I stopped losing weight and began to gain it back. I think it just depends on the hormone levels and neurotransmitter levels of the dieter whether nuts are useful or not.

So I would caution everyone from jumping to an all-or-nothing conclusion.

In Reply to William Anderson, LMHC

Melanie Dukas, Saugus

I was gaining weight and getting bloated, so I gave up most grains and carbs, leaving me with little to snack on. When I crave sugar or carbs, I just eat nuts. I eat quite a bit of them, and my weight has stayed steady. I have been able to lose the 15 pounds that creeped up in middle age and keep it off effortlessly. My friends who struggle with their weight starve themselves all day and load up on carbs at night. They never eat nuts because they are too fattening. They’d rather have Cheezits or popcorn, which do nothing to quell your appetite.

Slainte, Ireland

What did the squirrel ask the psychiatrist during their therapeutic session? “Doc, is it true you are what you eat?”

Samazama, San Francisco

I find it utterly bizarre that people need a “scientific” study to believe that nuts are a nutritious and tasty part of their diet, while giving a pass to such ingredients as artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, preservatives, anti-caking chemicals, Franken-foods of every ilk, endless factory-farmed boneless skinless chicken breasts, Olestra, etc, etc, and who knows what other products that have been foisted on the American public by the food industry.

If your aim is to be as thin as one of those heroin-chic models that fashion magazines seem to think are attractive, you’re right, eating a nut might cause you to maintain a normal but not emaciated body type. But if you are past torturing yourself to please other people, enjoy a nut!
What has happened to Americans’ ability to judge food?

jas, Chicago

“studies finding that people who eat nuts (tree nuts like cashews, almonds and pistachios, along with their legume pal, the peanut) live longer and healthier lives, with less risk of chronic ailments like heart disease, respiratory problems and Type 2 diabetes.”

Apparently peanuts have the same benefits. So can’t we just lump them together to save time in constantly asserting that they’re not really nuts?

In Reply to Mary S

Robin, Bay Area

Peer reviewed studies please? Otherwise it is just your opinion Mr. Anderson Method.

In Reply to William Anderson, LMHC

A., NY

It’s constantly mentioned. Why does it have to be constantly mentioned. “Of course, if you are allergic, you should not eat nuts.” There, better?

Kinnan O’Connell, Larchmont, New York

While nuts may never replace the Oreo, they are a very good substitute for meat, making their consumption good for you and good for the planet.

For breakfast I’ve been eating almonds & pecans, bananas, blueberries& raisins in milk, for ten years or more. That’s about 6:30 a.m. and then don’t eat lunch until about 1 p.m. eating lightly, and don’t feel the urge to snack. About the time I started this my HDL’s jumped to the low to mid 60’s and stayed there. I work out regularly, though not excessively and will have occasional breaks in my routines. My weight stays steady, I catch a cold about every 2 years and have health that I just don’t see in my peers in late sixties. Maybe us nutty people have been on to something and didn’t know it.

jas, Chicago

I find the carbs way more addictive. If I have pretzels, popcorn, crackers, cereal, etc. in the house I will eat until it’s gone! But nuts don’t trigger that overeating for me. They take the edge of and make me feel more control in my choices. Good stuff!

BSB, Princeton

Actually, these findings shouldn’t come as a surprise. I’ve never seen a fat squirrel.

Anonymous, NY

I always felt that any food in its natural form feels healthy. Add to nuts: avocados, which people think of as overly high in fat and calories and bananas, which–at least when I was a kid in the 1970s–people thought were too high in calories.

I’ve always eaten nuts every day, and avocado is likely my favorite food. I’m a petite 5’2″ 105 pounds.

I also love dessert, sometimes.

Rookie, NY

I’d worry more about Pfizer than the almond board if I were you.

DaveW, Austin

Yes, Jas, you missed the subtitle to the article: “Despite being loaded with fat and calories, studies show that snacking on nuts can cause you to eat less at meals.”

It might be improved to say: “Because nuts are loaded with healthy fats, studies show that snacking on nuts….”

Aside: the NYT missed the grammatical error. “despite being loaded” in the dependent clause refers to “studies,” but is supposed to refer to “nuts.” 🙂

Lonely Pedant, DFW, TX

I’ll bite: What does it take to be a “Licensed Weight Control Expert”?

In Reply to William Anderson, LMHC

Antney, NJ

Ha! Well, here you are, selling something, based on 30 years of experience. So I look up Richard Mattes on PubMed, and then I look you up William……
….. and let’s just say you are clearly intellectually and experientially outgunned in this fight.
Good luck with the website you are promoting!

NA Fortis, Los ALtos CA

You’re right about (a) peanuts; (b) omission of fact that many are allergic to nuts.
While I’m here, will add to (a), that tree nuts are mostly drupes, Very few are true nuts. Acorns, hazelnuts & chestnuts make the cut as true nuts.

Not terrible important, anymore than the fact that tomatoes, avocados, all squash are really fruits.

Ravenna, NY

My obese cousin says: “I’m hungry! I’m making some popcorn”. I reply “popcorn is empty calories. Have some nuts”. She replies “nuts are fattening!”. She fails to notice my always slender form as I scarf down hands-full of nuts.

Samazama, San Francisco, CA

Check into ethnic stores – like middle eastern. Whole walnuts for $2.99 a pound. And Trader Joe’s has good prices too.

Sara, Chicago

I’ve had to give up almost all snacks, like pretzels or popcorn, because of a medical condition. I’ve substituted nuts now for 2 months–almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts. I eat too many of them, I know, but I haven’t gotten tired of them, and I no longer crave carbohydrate snacks. I’ve also lost almost 10 pounds, although I didn’t really want to lose any weight. I know this isn’t scientifically validatable (is that a word) but I’m tossing it into the mix.

Red, Central Pennsylvania

I eat a handful of mixed nuts, (almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, filberts, etc. but no peanuts), on my Cheerios together with a handful of either blueberries or sliced strawberries every morning for breakfast. Since I am Lactose Intolerant I do not add milk to the cereal/nut/fruit mixture. In addition I drink a 12 oz glass of water and a 7 oz glass of either cranberry or tomato juice with the cereal. I do not drink coffee, tea or hot chocolate. I have eaten this breakfast every day for at least the past 35 years and have not gained any weight. Having this breakfast fills me up and I only eat a very light lunch. I eat a varied diet for supper.

I only get a moderate amount of exercise, normally walking, and do not belong to a gym or participate in any organized sports.

At 62 I weigh about the same as I did at 25, while most of my friends have struggled with a growing waist line. I am firmly convinced the nuts help me maintain my weight.

Some of my friends have warned me my regular ingestion of nuts was going to cause me to gain weight due to their high calorie count. But this study seems to support the idea tree nuts have actually the opposite effect.

Johnny the K, Nicasio, CA

You can get a one pound bag of almonds for around 6 bucks at Trader Joes…

Greg, San Diego

I started a new lifestyle 3 years ago to lower my cholesterol and triglycerides without medication. Part of my new eating regiment was to eat at least 1/4 cup of nuts per day. I started out mainly with walnuts for the omega-3 fats. Over three months I lost 60 pounds and dropped my cholesterol over 100 points and my triglycerides by 400. Three years later the weight is still off and I’m still eating nuts everyday.

Ravenna, NY

I never count calories, never weigh myself and have remained the same size since college….about 50 years ago. The secret is to avoid processed food in any form and eat whatever you want otherwise. And I’m from a family whose members are all overweight…..however they eat the typical American diet.

A., NY

Cashews over cookies any day, and I love cookies!

Morth, seattle WA

The trick here is measuring. We live in a calorie rich environment. A small portion of nuts can be a satisfying treat or snack, like a single cookie, a third a cup of ice cream, or even a half an ounce of cheese. But the thing is you have to do is measure and stop eating after half an ounce.

I now count every calorie, and I can eat anything and loose weight. It just matters how much. I like peanut butter and find it very satisfying, but my portion is a teaspoon (31 calories) on a whole grain cracker (25 calories).

I find that a small amount of fat is extremely satisfying, especially olive oil on vegetables. Because vegetables have almost zero calories, a cup of kale with a half a teaspoon of olive oil is considered high fat. But you need the oil to get the nutrients out of the kale, and make it satisfying.

Counting calories has led me to look for the highest satiation to calorie ratio. Protein of all kinds, vegetables with olive oil, small portions of brown rice and baked potatoes, small amounts of cheese and small amounts of nuts, small amounts of ice cream, are all very satisfying. But you have to stop when you finish your portion.

And you have to question your assumptions. Fresh cheese tortellini has, ounce for ounce, less calories then fresh plain pasta.

The trick to the success of the nut plan above is the measured portion.

Max Cornise, New York

The comment by Anne Marie Hislop is absolutely true in my experience, as well. The point is to stop eating so much food, every day, week and month non stop. Unsalted roasted peanuts, which are sold in bulk at my supermarket, are used as snack, and as a condiment in many of my dishes. If you put some in the blender to make a fine meal out of them, they are wonderful in muffins and omelettes, believe it or not. And a peanut sauce made with olive oil, cayenne pepper, and lime juice is wonderful on stir fry too.

Look at Far Eastern cultures, where nuts are used frequently in cooking. There’s a much, much lower incidence of obesity.

Anthony Esposito, New York, NY

People who regularly eat nuts as a snack are health-minded individuals to begin with. They watch their overall diet, they exercise and they avoid the usual snack foods. That explains the positive profile of the nut-eating public: it’s not the nut, it’s the nut-eater.

If the functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain shows anything in this study it will be the pleasure of free noshing for three months.

Tom, Boston

Pretty impressive credentials? Licensed by whom? Based upon what credentials?

NRroad, Northport, NY

It may well be that patients with morbid obesity respond differently to many foods, so generalization to the entire population seems imprudent. Or it may be that there is wide variability of responses in human populations as a whole, perhaps due to genetic variation. Anecdotally, my personal experience has been of finding that switching from a no breakfast high caffeine diet to one including a 550 kcal breakfast including 35 g. of walnuts with berries and a whole grain cereal was associated with reduced food intake later in the day, a BMI reduction from 29-<27, a 20 lb weight loss and still falling without a change in physical activity. One case proves nothing, but as a cardiologist I certainly find the results cited intriguing. Recent history is littered with failed supposed weight loss and cardiovascular risk reduction diets. A substantial large scale randomized trial of diets including nuts would certainly be worthwhile.

Canton, OH

So many insightful, interesting, and personal comments. NYTimes reader’s comments are always a good read.

Witness, West Coast

I lost a great deal of weight. It was tough and keeping it off is tough. But nuts help, somehow. They are tasty and surprisingly filling. My guess is that I eat fewer nuts, both by bulk and by calorie, than I would junk food to achieve the same satiation.

To successfully diet you need to not only cut out the junk and watch portion control but you need to eat well – and nuts are good for you.

Faith, Ohio

It’s actually pretty easy to avoid overeating nuts, or anything else for that matter: don’t eat out of the entire bag you purchased. Put aside your daily intake in a small glass container and keep only that with you. And when it comes to nuts, purchase and consume only the raw variety, not the salted. Our tastebuds are born to crave salt and fat and sugar. We can surrender to the natural tendency of our tastebuds, or we can choose not to. And therein lies the trick of whether eating healthfully means feeling deprived, and whether one caves and goes for the Oreos or Doritos or whatever: allow yourself to deprive your tastebuds; who made them the boss anyway?

Chickpeas are beans and not nuts. You are snacking on carbs and not protein and you’re missing the point.

Hugh Loebner, New York City

Some references, please.

I have never seen any research linking salt and diabetes, but plenty linking sugar and carbs. Also, there are theoretical reasons to suspect carbs: Carbs -> increased blood sugar -> insulin production -> insulin resistance.

J Philip Faranda, Briarcliff Manor, NY

Call me crazy but foods that occur in nature like nuts are probably far better than the mass produced processed fecal matter being passed off as edible to the general populace these days.

Nuts may be loaded with fat but they are far easier to metabolize than high fructose corn syrup, which basically tricks the body into producing fat because it is artificial, slow killing poison.

BSB, Princeton

Ok, so I’ve never seen a fat squirrel and one with a heart condition.

MD Dubs, Connecticut

I didn’t get that from this article at all. Did you read it?

Jas, Chicago

What if you’re overweight but nuts are not one of your trigger foods? That’s me. I enjoy nuts, but they don’t cause me to start binging. I do have problems with overeating, but nuts don’t do it for me. They DO satiate me in a remarkable way, and help me overcome any urges / cravings. I feel more in control of my choices. So I’m totally on the nut bandwagon! Now if we were talking about chocolate chips…

ScienceTeacherMom, NYC

I’ve lost 30lbs and habitually eat a handful of raw almonds almost everyday. They fill me up, satisfy the craving for crunchy food and provide the vitamins I want without a pill. Given the choice between chocolate and almonds the nuts win every time. (Although heaven is chocolate covered almonds!)

Occupy Government, Oakland

Nuts come in shells. If one must crack a nut before eating it, he will consume fewer of them. and the time it takes, the hunt, if you will, promotes satiety.

OTOH, a bag of shelled pistachios is much to be avoided. I know.

Greenpa, MN

There are pretty certainly nuts of one kind or another that you CAN grow in your backyard. Check out “” on the web, the site of the Northern Nut Growers Association.

Actually the problem with backyard nut trees is not growing them- it’s getting them harvested before the squirrels/bluejays. It can, most certainly, be done- but you have to pay attention.

The Pooch, Wendell, MA

JW: A restaurant is crowded with people–why? Calories in-calories out logic responds “Because more people came in than left.” Which is true in an obvious sort of way, and thermodynamically necessary, but tells us nothing about why this restaurant is crowded, or why other restaurants might be empty. I recommend reading Gary Taubes on this topic.

KS: I absolutely do mean grass-fed beef, which is one of the most nutrient-dense and satiating foods available (to us omnivores).

The Pooch, Wendell, MA

High-fat animal products (from healthy animals) have never been shown to cause obesity or chronic disease. These foods are uniquely satiating and are packed with essential nutrients.

MD Dubs, Connecticut

In the homemade stuff, you’d be missing out on the satisfying crunch and the fiber (strained out). In commercial boxed almond milk (like Blue Diamond), you are drinking almond milk with a fair amount of sugar added, as well as an array of thickeners and other yummy ingredients like potassium citrate. Better off to eat the nut.

BSB, Princeton

Oh come on Mr. Anderson, have you ever seen a fat squirrel?

Ida, Storrs CT

Is ‘everyone’ with a weight problem an ‘overeater?’ I don’t know. What I read about obesity research suggests that the way individual bodies deal with food has as much to do with obesity as the amount of food one eats. In my 88th year of life, I no longer eat nor want to eat as I did when I was younger. When I was younger, I ate everything I wanted and as much of it as I wanted to general amazement and was considered too skinny; I put on a little weight after having children and now have a bit of a pot belly, but am not overweight much less obese.

My afternoon snack, these days, is lightly salted pumpkin seeds with half a small bottle of vegetable juice. I haven’t noticed whether I eat less for supper. Occasionally, while reading in bed before I sleep I like a few more. My usual amount is between a quarter and half a cup. Otherwise, I eat well in the sense that my diet is mostly fresh/freshly cooked vegs, unsauced frozen vegs, fresh/frozen/canned fish/chicken. I like and eat as much eggs, cheese, butter and bread, yogurt as I want. I used to digest anything in any combination, but my aging digestion no longer puts up with that; I control ‘GERD’ with probiotics, very small amounts of raw apple cider vinegar, and kombucha/wine all of which encourage fermentation

Given the amount of protein and fiber I get, and given that I consume less than RDAs most days, I do myself a favor eating nuts. I have always enjoyed excellent health and continue to do so – so far!

Go figure!

paf67, Los Angeles

I would love for all of the positive attributes to be real but either way I will continue to enjoy almonds, cashews, pistachios, and especially peanuts! Yes it is a bit troubling that this research is industry funded so I look forward to some reproducible results but either way they will always be my favorite snack!
(This comment NOT brought to you by the Almond Board of California but I will accept any appropriate gifts, bribes, or tributes.)

Jeff, Sacramento, CA

0.25 oz per day? What is that — like one nut?
No wonder you lost weight; you’ve been starving yourself!

adamben, ny

or people who care about their health make nuts part of their diet. correlation does not denote causation.

Shawn, Saskatchewan, Canada

I love the idea that some people’s bodies can work against endocrinology and biochemistry.

If I eat lots of carbs day after day I gain weight (see Christmas baking) then I have to go back to salads, vegetables both cooked and raw, lean proteins and cheese and nuts.

If I have carbs, I have them early in the day so I can burn them off. The recommended daily allowance of carbs is a joke! No one can burn that many carb calories in a day unless you run on a treadmill for an hour plus life weights plus are insanely active.

If you really want to lose weight, you have to bite the bullet and eat more vegetables, salad greens and lean proteins, and fewer carbs. Not no carbs, just fewer like less and 100 g a day, and if that is still too much, less than 50. The equivalent of 6 pieces of bread a day, and not all at night.

Shawn, Saskatchewan, Canada

When you eat nuts, you get ‘satiety’ but not a rise in your blood sugar because little/no glucose is involved. Anything that raises your blood sugar signals your body to store fat. Any endocrinology text will tell you this. You do need to be aware of how nuts contribute to your daily calorie count. You can’t eat bags of nuts plus all your meals. If you are active, get some focused exercise, ie 30 minutes on a treadmill, or a brisk walk (not a stroll) and eat reasonably, you should be able to keep your weight off. It’s lots of crackers, cookies, chips or cake (they all start with ‘c’ it seems, chocolate?) that are the downfall.

Daniel Jaye Halley, West Hatfield, MA.

I never met a Nut I didn’t LOVE! Walnuts are nice too!

Richard Messinger, Long Island

For m, 6 to 8 walnut halves for a mid- morning or mid -afternoon snack keeps me going until the next main meal of the day. But keep me away from any unshelled nut such as pistachios which have a popcorn effect on my Dorsal Striatum ! The blue atlas cedar loves his nuts!

James Kling, Harrisburg, PA

Perhaps you could link one reputable site that shows salt as causing T2D? Or even a single peer-reviewed study? Thanks.

Nelle Engoron, SF Bay Area

You say that “Nuts are one of the worst foods to suggest to overweight overeaters.” That’s quite a statement. So they are worse than the dozen commonly consumed chip and pretzel and cheese puff varieties that people binge on? Worse than cookies, cakes, ice cream, muffins, and other heavily consumed baked items that are mostly white flour and sugar? Worse than candy?

As others have noted, you can over-indulge in anything, but nuts are incredibly filling due to protein, fat and fiber. It’s a lot easier to overeat simple carbs such as sugar, white flour and potatoes than nuts. And nuts actually have a lot of nutritional value compared to simple carbs.

Doug, Boston

I’ve been a peanut butter-aholic since as long as I can remember. I eat about 2 lbs per week. In my 30’s I switched to no-salt or anything else added. Basically ground roasted peanuts with nothing else in it. I’m 60+ now and my cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure are fine and I’m not on any medications. Am about 5% over my ideal weight.

jas, Chicago

I avoid Oreos, but wish I could kill my craving for them. They are just perfect in their addictive powers. How do they DO that! And why can’t they do the same for vegetables?

DW, Los Angeles

Visit Ann Arbor, MI sometime. Lots of famously fat squirrels!

Sharon, Miami Beach

The article mentioned that peanuts were legumes

steve123474, CO

Too much added sugar. Check the nutritional data on the carton.

JW, Palo Alto, CA

I have a similar size and shape as you. I enjoy nuts most days. Certainly when I feel hungry between meals I go to nuts–almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews. I do not like peanuts and walnuts and pecans are not my favs.

I only like dessert if it is top quality and made with butter, eggs, good flour. I do not like those made with oils or other fats.


Oh chestnuts are nuts but nutritionally they have no relation to the nuts being discussed here because they have negligible protein and fat and don’t contribute to satiety. They are more like wheat and rice and according to wikipedia twice the starch as potatoes. I love chestnuts but snack with caution. Peanuts even though they’re legumes are more nutty in their nutritional profile.

Dee, Boston

I use a 1/4 cup measuring spoon to dole out my daily nut allowance (almonds a favorite, or a mix of peanuts, almonds, walnuts and seeds). It’s not that I necessarily feel full after I eat my quarter cup, but rather that I feel satisfied. Also, by measuring out the serving and then putting away the bag, I’m able to avoid overeating. Being vegetarians, my family relies on nuts for a great shot of protein and fiber. Folks get into trouble when they reach for the salty jar of peanuts and don’t stop eating until they see the bottom of the can. A high calorie food can easily fit into a healthy diet with just a little bit of planning and self control. Nuts are healthy and delicious…eat them slowly, enjoy the crunch and don’t take them by the handful. I might have to take my daily almond ration a little early today!

Joshua Schwartz, Ramat-Gan, Israel

The hard part is the “modest amounts”. Otherwise even healthy nuts add pounds.
I am basically a disciplined person, but bring nuts into the house and I lose it, as it were, and I do not mean pounds. Easier to diet by keeping away from them.

Bruce Rozenblit, Kansas City

I am a huge consumer of nuts and peanuts, at about 1 and 1/2 pounds per week. I don’t use them as a snack food, but as a primary source of nutrition. I eat little meat, try very hard to eliminate refined sugars, and get about half of my carbs from whole grains and the rest from refined grains and fresh fruit.

My cholesterol and triglycerides are very low and body fat is around 11 or 12%. I do work out a great deal.

I am convinced that nuts should be a major component of the diet, but I must say that I would not recommend eating as much of them as I do if you want to lose weight. They do pack a high calorie punch. I have a small stomach and consume a small volume of food, (that means one plate at the buffet line and I’m stuffed), so nuts are ideal for me. A big eater that can easily wolf down a bag of cashews in one sitting is asking for it.

Like anything we eat, moderation is the key. Experience has shown me that if you want to lose weight, the first thing to jettison are the refined sugars, then the refined starches. Get your insulin under control. Reduce your caloric intake to a reasonable level, (don’t starve yourself), and start exercising (even just walking). There are no magical pills, foods, or treatments.

JimT, Richland, WA

My HDL level (good cholesterol) was low. I found info on the Internet saying pecans would help. Started eating them with ground flax seed, fruit and yogurt and at next checkup my hdl had risen about five points and was in the safe zone. Later, I learned that walnuts were even better (more omega 3s). Now I eat both and sweeten the bowl with stevia. I snack on roasted, salted pecans, moderating my chip consumption. Also, reduced carbs by nearly eliminating bread. Take fish oil and eat fish several times a week. Result, Lost twenty pounds and no longer believe low fat foods are always healthy. I believe, low fat carbs in excess are killers.

Sharon Blake, Marin County, CA

Let me make it clear that no Nut Board has paid me even one pecan to offer my testimonial:
When I made up my mind to slim down I ate peanut-butter (salted) on wheat toast for breakfast, and ate a few – 10+/-? – roasted almonds before lunch and dinner – as well as pretty much everything else I wanted – EXCEPT pastries, candies, or anything else highly sugared. I lost 45 pounds in 7 months and it all felt easy, effortless, and enjoyable. (Also I signed on with – per information from an article in May 2012 Atlantic)

Connor Dougherty, Denver, CO

Nuts are a wonderful food, especially for vegetarians. I depend on almonds to contribute protein to my diet. That said, I’ve battled a weight problem since I was a kid and I’ve learned that if I even inhale the delicious aroma of salted cashews, I will gain weight. It’s all a matter of moderation, but I’ve yet to develop a moderation muscle where cashews are concerned…

EdwardLeer, London

The reason why nuts aid in weight loss is due to the fact that they not only deliver a dense fiber but they also contain monounsaturated fat which has been shown to help weight loss.

The real secret to nuts is that they partly reverse inflammation from processed foods. Excessive fat on the body is an inflammatory condition. Addressing inflammation causes the body to drop fat…

James Kling, Harrisburg, PA

Not to mention the fact that almost all microwave popcorn uses the worst oils and carcinogenic flavorings… Pass.

Isobelk, Fort Lauderdale

Having people eat the same nuts every day for weeks is a bad experiment. People get bored with the same taste and texture day after day. This will affect the results as they will either eat other things as well, eat fewer almonds, or have some other side effect from the shear boredom. It would be better to allow participants to eat any nuts equal to the desired caloric or volumetric value desired by the experimenter. I say this as someone who finds some nuts boring to my palette, and I include almonds in that category.

Orangecat, Valley Forge, PA

Dr. Atkins lives! His diet promotes eating almonds and peanuts in between the high-protein meals – and it works; they’re very filling and I don’t gain an ounce snacking on them.

stevenz, auckland

Cashew cookies.

Melissa, New York

I’m a recovering bulimic and nuts are very very dangerous territory for me. When I was at my worst, nuts were my worst “trigger” food. I would promise myself that I would only have one tiny spoon of peanut butter on toast, or 10 almonds, and next thing you know I was in the middle of a full binge, which led right into a purge. It got to the point where I could not keep them in the apartment.

Fortunately I am well into recovery and have been reintroducing nuts into my diet (I have decided that I would try to not be controlled by any one “safe” or “unsafe” food), but once in a while I have a near miss, and the culprit is almost always nuts.

I’ve found that Kind bars make a pretty good compromise – they act as a self-contained serving of nuts, and I stop after one bar (sometimes i have two… they’re just too good!).

So… it’s weird. Somehow nuts serve both as a very scary reminder of how trapped I used to feel, and at the same time as a hopeful reminder how far I have come.

Unhappy camper, Planet Earth

Not many of us are likely to count the number of nuts we eat. However, a one-ounce (level) coffee measure can provide you with a reasonably sized daily serving of roasted unsalted nuts of your choice, without having to count.

Liz Dickson, Virginia

Man, if you are looking for a super oatmeal recipe, this is what I have almost every morning and I LOVE it:

1/3 cup old fashion oats, T chia seed, T hemp hearts, T roasted flax seed, T ground flax seed, 1/3 apple chopped, 1/3 pear chopped, 1 T raisins, 1/3 cup mixed frozen berries, 1 T chopped walnuts, very generous cinnamon, generous turmeric, several rounds of fresh ground black pepper, pinch ginger, 1/3 cup almond milk, 1/3 cup oat milk. (I don’t actually measure anything, so these are eyeball estimates.)

Mix dry ingredients, spices and raisins in bowl and add milks. Microwave 2.2 minutes. Meanwhile chop apple, pear, walnuts. Add berries & microwave additional 25 seconds. Add apple, pear & walnuts and another shake of cinnamon and consume! Total prep and cook time: 5-7 minutes.

Spicy delish and super nutrish! It will definitely fill you for several hours.

Morgan, Medford NY

Sugar is not the cause of diabetes, it is a problem once you have diabetes. Salt is a strong contributing causative factor in type 2 diabetes. There is a general misconception that sugar causes diabetes. Search reputable medical sites as to the initial causes of diabetes.

A., NY

What we really need is a cure for life-threatening food allergies, not a diatribe against either people eating nuts or people who think they shouldn’t be allowed to.

A., NY

It’s the oatmeal, with its readily available carbs, that makes the nut butter fattening. Simple carbs help you turn other calories to body fat. If you eat nuts by themselves or with other low glycemic foods, you will be fine. I like to add walnuts to stir fry, e.g.

Joe Maxwell, Stanford, CA

I found if I get a pack of roasted, salted chickpeas, it satisfies the crunch and I get the protein, but with much less fat. It’s expensive to buy them in single serving packs, but I know myself too well. I’ve compared them to other roasted nuts too (like pepitas) and they still come out ahead on lower calories and lower fat. It’s been a great find.

Me, East Coast

A tablespoon of ground walnuts is great in oatmeal too. I use a mini food processor to grind 7-10 days worth and keep them in a plastic container in the fridge.

Plain oatmeal isn’t enough to keep me going until lunch time. I’ll have to try your almond butter idea.

Ma, Boston

Nuts will help if they replace other high fat high protein foods because they are extremely nutritious. Eating highly nutritious foods leads the body to less cravings.

jas, Chicago

Huh, I didn’t get that from this article at all. It points out the benefits of nuts and seems to be recommending them. Did I miss something?

Betty Jean, NH

Without salt or lightly salted, almonds are the best snack!

MD Dubs, Connecticut

Do you believe that the airlines should have to consider and accommodate for every single life threatening allergy out there? Or just the specific allergy that affects you/your family personally?

Recox, Princeton NJ

It is true that it is easy to eat way to many nuts if you aren’t paying attention! The best method is to count out 20 nuts, put the rest away, and then eat them slowly. We started eating more nuts about 10 years ago in place of higher-carb snacks like bread, pretzels, etc., (my family is addicted to bread) and we haven’t gotten bored yet. The best is Planter’s Deluxe Mixed Nuts, lots of variety and no peanuts. We’ve noticed that peanuts are too easy to scarf down. I bet my brain would light up like a christmas tree if you just SAID brazil nut to me! But the Almond Board should know that after everyone has picked through the container, the last nuts to be eaten are always almonds and hazelnuts. The family is not big on those. Good thing they are great on salads!


I understand that people who are already obese and have self-control issues may not want to add nuts to their weight-loss diet, they ARE addictive and it is quite easy to eat ALOT of them if you are mindlessly munching straight out of the bag or can. Here’s my suggestion: fill up a bunch of the extra-small “snack” size Zip-Loc bags with a modest serving of nuts and grab one when you feel the need to snack. No worries about overindulging and you can eat the whole bag!

Clara, Third Rock from the Sun

It works. I always carry some nuts (in their natural state) with me. Should I get hungry before I get home, a few nuts keep me from patronizing the nearest fast-food restaurant.

Too bad nuts were vilified as unhealthful for so very long.

Now I hear nuts help with longevity, too. To think that all this time, I could have been having nuts, which I enjoy, but avoided. Shows you how pointless it is to listen to health propaganda.


The article addressed this conflict of interest, and I have to say it was exceptionally well written. That and your use of the phrase “deep do-do [sic],” Mr. Williams, is some of the best writing I have seen in the NY Times as of late.


Neanderthals did not evolve to “become” humans. They coexisted alongside modern man (for a brief time) as a different speicies of human, and their disappearance is the latest popular science conundrum.

I say “nuts!” to misinformation!

Simon Taylor, Santa Barbara, CA

I am addicted to nuts. It has even become a joke in my family. This year, I received a series of mail-order nut gift-baskets for my birthday from my sister in Brooklyn, with a note attached: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.


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