Looking for a snack to keep you on track to lose or maintain weight? Reach for the nuts, says a Harvard study released last month in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health. (Two of the authors were partly funded by the Peanut Institution and the California Walnut Commission. "The funders have no roles in study design, data collection and interpretation, and decision on manuscript publication," the researchers wrote.)

© Getty / Arx0nt Just Half a Serving of Nuts Per Day Might Help You Avoid Weight Gain, a Study Says

The research looked at self-reported dietary habits in over 289,000 Americans, men and women, across a span of 24 years. (Though the group was large, the researchers pointed out that participants were mostly white and of higher socioeconomic status.) Every four years, the participants were asked to state their weight and how often they'd eaten a serving of nuts over the past year. Participants across the board had an average weight gain of 0.32 kilograms (0.71 pounds) per year. But for those who ate at least half a serving of nuts per day, the risk of weight gain was lower: they avoided an average of .74 extra kilograms (1.6 pounds) over four years and had a 16 percent lower chance of becoming obese, the study found. Participants also gained less weight when they swapped foods like French fries, chips, dessert, and processed meats for nuts.

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