The High-Cal Snack That Won't Make You Gain

Forget the fat! New research shows that nuts are your body's friend.

June 17, 2014
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For such a tiny snack, the humble nut carries an awful lot of baggage. Depending on who you ask, nuts are either the best thing that’s ever happened to their diet (Protein! Antioxidants! Energy!), or a sneaky source of added fat and extra calories. But we may be able to finally put the great nut debate to rest, because a new research review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that despite their high levels of fat and calories, tossing almonds on your salad or munching on pistachios to get you through your afternoon slump won't cause weight gain.

The reason: According to the researchers, nuts make you feel fuller longer, our bodies may not absorb all of the calories and nutrients in nuts, and nut consumption may even give your metabolism a calorie-burning boosts -- even when resting! (Bonus: The study found that these benefits are especially evident when nuts are consumed as a snack.)

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“If you enjoy nuts in balance with other whole foods throughout the day, they actually help you shed pounds because of their natural and satisfying fat, as well as satiating fiber and protein,” explains Pam Peeke, MD, author of The Hunger Fix. “Plus, researchers have found that eating nuts is associated with an increases in the number of calories your body burns while resting, as well as the thermic effect of food, which is the number of calories your body burns consuming and processing the food you eat."

Ready to start snacking? Brush up on the benefits of these healthy options:

ALMONDS
Serving size: 20-24
Stats: 163 calories, 6 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of fiber
Get cracking: Just one serving clocks in at half of your daily requirement of vitamin E and almost 10 percent of your daily calcium needs. Plus, researchers recently found that almonds’ prebiotic content can improve digestive health.

WALNUTS
Serving size: 8-11 halves
Stats: 185 calories, 4 grams of protein, 18.5 grams of fat, 1.9 grams of fiber
Get cracking: Walnuts are high in healthy omega-3 fats and immune-boosting antioxidants, and research even suggests their polyunsaturated fat content can help you better handle stress.

PECANS
Serving size: 18-20 halves
Stats: 196 calories, 2.6 grams of protein, 20.4  grams of fat, 2.7 grams of fiber
Get cracking: Though they have the most calories, the majority of the count comes from lots of monounsaturated, healthy fats. In fact, one study found that eating pecans can lower your body’s “bad fat” content by as much as 33 percent!

CASHEWS
Serving size: 16-18
Stats: 157 calories, 5.2 grams of protein, 12.4 grams of fat, 0.9 grams of fiber
Get cracking: Fitness enthusiasts love cashews because they pack more carbs and iron than other nuts. They also have high levels of protein and zinc, which aid in cell growth and repair.

PISTACHIOS
Serving size: 45-47
Stats: 159 calories, 5.8 grams of protein, 12.9 grams of fat, 2.9 grams of fiber
Get cracking: Pistachios boost heart health and were even found to lower risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, according to a study from the American Society of Clinical Nutrition. Plus, their shell provides a built-in barrier that can keep you from overindulging.

More: Is Skipping Breakfast Really That Bad?

HAZELNUTS
Serving size: 18-20
Stats: 178 calories, 4.2 grams of protein, 17.2 grams of fat, 2.7 grams of fiber
Get cracking: Hazelnuts have the most folate and also boast high levels of iron and zinc, which makes them particularly appealing to expectant mamas.

BRAZIL NUTS
Serving size:
6-8
Stats: 186 calories, 4.1 grams of protein, 18.8 grams of fat, 2.1 grams of fiber
Get cracking: Keep blood pressure in check with brazil nuts -- they’ve got a great balance of sodium, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, all essential for heart health.