Nut industry fights back against “unhealthy” fat bias

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 28th November 2012

A comprehensive Australian report has reviewed the scientific literature on nuts and health and has countered the view that nuts are fattening. The report titled The 2012 Nut Report: Nuts and the Big Fat Myth reviews the past 20 years of research into nut consumption.

According to the report, the “nuts make you fat” diet myth is so engrained in the Australian psyche it’s the number one reason 98% of Australian don’t eat the recommended 30g handful of nuts a day.

Surprisingly, health professionals are not immune to the myth with only 1% of general practitioners (GPs) and 4% of dietitians consuming the recommended daily intake of nuts. This is despite widespread understanding of their health benefits, with 93% of GPs and 99% of dietitians agreeing nuts play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Advanced Accredited Practicing Dietitian and author of the report Ms Lisa Yates said the review confirmed nuts do not cause weight gain, despite the confusion regarding mono and polyunsaturated fats contained in nuts.

“The review of research reveals nut eaters generally have a lower body mass index (BMI), a better diet, less risk of chronic disease and are less likely to gain weight than people who avoid eating nuts,” Ms Yates said.

According to Ms Yates, consuming a handful (30g) of nuts at least five times a week has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart disease by 30-50%.

The Nuts and the Big Fat Myth report analyses highly regarded population studies including the landmark Seventh-day Adventist study, Nurses’ Health Study and the Physicians’ Health Study, which followed more than 130,000 people in total, as well as more than 60 intervention studies including research on weight management in diets designed to achieve other health outcomes such as cholesterol lowering and diabetes management.

It follows a NHMRC review2 of food health literature to help underpin the upcoming Australian Dietary Guidelines that determined: “consumption of nuts (65-110 g / day) does not lead to weight gain in the short-term”.

The report was prepared by AAPD Lisa Yates in her role as dietitian for the Australian tree nuts industry’s nutrition body, Nuts for Life, and includes a foreword by Weight Watchers.

The Australian nut industry is fighting back against the "unhealthy" fat bias.