There is concern that tree nuts may cause weight gain due to their energy density, yet evidence shows that tree nuts do not adversely affect weight status. Epidemiologic and experimental studies have shown a reduced risk of chronic diseases with tree nut consumption without an increased risk of weight gain. In fact, tree nuts may protect against weight gain and benefit weight-loss interventions. However, the relation between tree nut consumption and adiposity is not well understood at the mechanistic level. This review summarizes the proposed underlying mechanisms that might account for this relation. Evidence suggests that tree nuts may affect adiposity through appetite control, displacement of unfavorable nutrients, increased diet-induced thermogenesis, availability of metabolizable energy, antiobesity action of bioactive compounds, and improved functionality of the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is a common factor among these mechanisms and may mediate, in part, the relation between tree nut consumption and reduced adiposity. Further research is needed to understand the impact of tree nuts on the gut microbiome and how the gut microbial environment affects the nutrient absorption and metabolism of tree nuts. The evidence to date suggests that tree nut consumption favorably affects body composition through different mechanisms that involve the gut microbiome. A better understanding of these mechanisms will contribute to the evolving science base that addresses the causes and treatments for overweight and obesity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics