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Why Are Nuts So Filling?

Nuts are a satiating snack for sure, but it also kinda depends how you’re eating them

I recently heard someone wonder, “Why are nuts so filling?” Which was weird to me, as my personal nut experiences haven’t been quite as satiating. I think I could probably eat a tub of cashews and forget it even happened. But, hypothetically, nuts are a pretty filling food — multiple published scientific studies have proved it. 

For example! Studies from the University of South Australia and Leatherhead Food Research, a research center in Surrey, U.K., have found that almonds are an effective snack for suppressing appetite without resulting in weight gain or an increase in the overall number of calories one consumes a day. In the studies, participants consumed 42 and 43 grams of almonds per day, the equivalent of around 34 almonds. That’s ultimately a pretty decent quantity, if you aren’t mindlessly inhaling them like I would. 

Another study from Harvard Medical School similarly found that walnut consumption “increases satiation but has no effect on insulin resistance or the metabolic profile over a four-day period.” In this particular study, participants actually drank breakfast shakes containing walnuts, rather than snacking on them, but nevertheless, walnuts were still effective at healthily filling people up. 

As nutritionist David Friedman, author of Food Sanity: How to Eat in a World of Fads and Fiction, previously explained to MEL, walnuts are the best pick of your usual nut offerings. “They contain the most antioxidants compared to any other nut and also offer the most healthy kind of fat, omega-3 fatty acids,” he said. They’re also loaded with micronutrients like iron and calcium. 

Friedman also said that almonds are a solid choice, particularly because of their high fiber content. Basically, because of their nutrient-density, any of the mainstream nuts are gonna offer you a sense of fullness, so long as you eat them right. 

Of course, the biggest thing to consider when it comes to snack-nuts is quantity. Like most snack foods, it’s way too easy to eat thrice the recommended serving without realizing, particularly because you might not be getting out your gram scale or counting out every almond. You don’t necessarily need to be so precise or tedious about it, but it’s important to be mindful of how you’re eating so that you can let your body become satiated on a reasonable amount. 

Eating any food slowly and methodically will also increase your sense of satiation, as you’re literally giving your stomach time to tell your brain that you’re full. With nuts in particular, a study from Purdue University found that chewing almonds 40 times increased participants’ sense of fullness two hours after the study, compared to those who only chewed 10 or 25 times. 

Similarly, nuts might increase a sense of fullness because people tend to eat them with their hands (if you’ve ever eaten a whole nut through any other means, please never speak to me). When we eat with our hands, we’re actually more likely to be mindful of our eating, and may even eat more slowly. This is especially true for a nut like pistachios, which slow us down with their shells.

At the end of the day, the fulfillment you’ll experience from nuts (spiritual, emotional, physical, whatever) will depend on your own habits. Yes, they’re literally a peanut-sized food, but they pack a ton of nutrients into their tiny bodies. Again, it’s just up to you to unlock them.