no3rdseat's Avatar


15 Jan, 2015 09:04 PM

I just got a newsletter from my doctor this morning that talks about why
nuts don't make you fat. Apparently, the fat in nuts is stored in the
cell. Even chewing doesn't release the fat from the cell wall and it
moves through the digestive tract undigested until it reaches the large
intestine where bacteria break down some of the cell wall which
releases some fat. Basically nuts just make you feel full because you're
getting fiber and a little protein! Perfect food!


Rick Stewart
Silver Spring MD

Nuts are a rich source of fat, but many studies have shown that the fat in
nuts is absorbed very poorly. This month a study explains why nuts are not
fattening (*American Journal of Clinical Nutrition*, 2015
Jan;101(1):25-33). The fat in almonds is located inside the almond cells.
Even after prolonged chewing, most of the almond cells remained intact and
the fat was still inside the cells. Since fat is absorbed only after it is
released from cells, most of the fat in almonds cannot be absorbed in the
upper part of your intestinal tract. This explains why the calorie count of
nuts is really lower than what you read on the label.

The calorie counts shown on food labels are computed from how much heat can
be produced by the food in a laboratory. However, this method of measuring
calories is meaningless for foods that are poorly absorbed. The number of
calories listed on the label can be much higher than those a person
actually absorbs; many of the potential calories pass through, undigested,
in the person's stool. This explains why blood fat levels are lower than
expected after a person eats nuts. Another study showed that roasting
almonds does not increase the absorption of fat over that absorbed from raw
almonds (*Br J Nutr*, 2014 Nov 14;112(9):1521-9). Some of the fat that has
passed through the upper intestines is absorbed after the nuts reach the
colon, where bacteria ferment the cell walls to release some of the fat (*Am
J Clin Nutr*, 2004 Sep;80(3):604-13).

*Nuts Appear to be Healthful*
Epidemiologic studies (on populations) associate eating nuts with reduced
likelihood to suffer heart attacks, gallstones, diabetes, and cancer. Many
studies show that eating nuts lowers high blood pressure, cholesterol,
belly fat, and metabolic syndrome; and that nuts are not associated with
gaining weight (*Nutrients*, 2010 July;2(7):652-82).

This week a study reports that eating almonds reduces belly fat, the type
of fat that causes diabetes and heart attacks (*Journal of the American
Heart Association*, published online 1/11/15). Fifty-two middle-aged,
apparently healthy but obese adults with high levels of the bad LDL
cholesterol were placed on a heart-healthy diet and were fed daily either:
* 1.5 ounces (42 grams) of whole almonds, or
* a banana muffin with the same number of calories as the almonds.
After 6 weeks, those eating almonds had lower total cholesterol and bad LDL
cholesterol levels. Those eating the muffins had their good HDL
cholesterols lowered. The almond-eaters also had smaller waist
circumferences and less of the belly fat that leads to diabetes. Both
groups had the same body weight and total body fat measures.

*Why Nuts are More Healthful than Muffins*
The almond snack that was given to the study patients contained 30-35
almonds (1.5 ounces), with 240 calories, 20 grams of fat, (primarily
monounsaturated) and 4.7 grams of fiber. The muffins contained the same
number of calories, but had less fiber, less monounsaturated fat and far
more sugar and starch.

A high rise in blood sugar can damage every cell in your body. Muffins are
made from flour which causes a much higher rise in blood sugar than whole
grains do. Whole grains have a thick capsule that prevents the rapid
absorption of sugars and other carbohydrates into your bloodstream. Grains
are full of carbohydrates which can be absorbed only as single sugars. When
you grind a whole grain into a powder, you remove the capsule around the
whole grain and markedly increase the absorption of sugar to cause a high
rise in blood sugar. Fat's location inside the cells of nuts reduces
absorption of the fat in the same way that the thick outer capsule around
whole (unground) grains reduces the absorption of sugar.

*What This Means for You*
Go ahead and snack on nuts. Try to limit refined carbohydrates made by
grinding plants into flour or by adding sugar to any food or drink. This
means that you should restrict sugared drinks including fruit juices, and
all foods made with any kind of flour: muffins, bread, pasta, pretzels,
bagels, crackers, cookies and so forth.

  1. Support Staff 1 Posted by Fiona on 19 Jan, 2015 08:35 PM

    Fiona's Avatar

    Would you mind if I can make this post public as I know several of our supporters would love to add their points as well. Currently the message is private.

  2. 2 Posted by no3rdseat on 19 Jan, 2015 09:28 PM

    no3rdseat's Avatar

    Yes, please do!

  3. Support Staff 3 Posted by Fiona on 19 Jan, 2015 10:39 PM

    Fiona's Avatar


  4. 4 Posted by no3rdseat on 20 Jan, 2015 06:07 PM

    no3rdseat's Avatar

    Fiona- Could you please edit my paragraph at the top where I wrote "cell
    membrane" I meant to say "cell wall". Could you change it for me please?
      I know the difference, but not being a scientist I sometimes incorrectly
    use the terms interchangeably. Also, the name of my doctor is Dr Gabe
    Mirkin ( . If this will be public, I'd like to give
    credit where credit is due. Thanks!

  5. Support Staff 5 Posted by Ken on 22 Jan, 2015 01:16 PM

    Ken's Avatar

    Hi Rick

    Thank you for the information and visiting the Help_Line.


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