Do Fruit & Nut Bars Cause Weight Gain?

There are a variety of healthier fruit and nut bars on the market now that boast dried fruit as a primary ingredient. Dried fruit is calorically dense, though. Should we be concerned that eating such bars may make us fat?

You may have noticed in the conclusion of the fig study I covered in my Care2 post Best Dried Fruit for Cholesterol that adding 14 figs to people’s daily diets did not lead to significant weight gain. Wait a second. That’s 300 calories of figs a day. Over 5 weeks that’s 10,000 calories. How did 10,000 calories disappear into thin air? Figs are so satiating and packed with fiber that even without trying people just end up eating less of other foods throughout the day. I get full just thinking about eating 14 figs!

Was that study just a fluke? Let’s look at the other new studies I covered. What about adding three quarters of a cup of dried apples to your diet every day for a year? Two hundred extra calories a day, but no significant change in weight. Two hundred extra calories of prunes a day for a year? No significant change in weight and same thing with a month of a daily 300 calorie load of dates.

In general, the 5-10% of Americans that average a tablespoon or more of dried fruit a day tend to be less overweight, less obese, and have a slimmer waist with less abdominal obesity. They tended to eat more, but weighed less.† Similar findings were found for those that eat nuts and nut butters, lower body mass index, slimmer waist, and significantly less excess weight and obesity. See my video†Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. The various mechanisms are summarized in Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories and explored further in a four-video series:

What if you put dried fruit and nuts together? What would be the effect of adding daily fruit and nut bars on top of one’s regular diet for two months? Researchers took about a hundred folks who were overweight and randomized them into two groups. Half ate their regular diet, and the other half ate their regular diet plus two fruit and nut bars a day, totalling an extra 340 calories. But these weren’t candy calories; these were largely whole plant food calories, dried fruits and nuts.

Two daily fruit and nut bars for two months did not cause weight gain. And they had additional sugar in them (they were KIND brand bars). Maybe that’s why the participants’ cholesterol didn’t get better despite the nuts, which should have helped. I highlight some brands in the video with no added sugar, but it’s even cheaper to just concoct one’s own trail mix and eat dried fruits and nuts on their own.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you havenít yet, you can subscribe to my videos here and watch my full 2012 year-in-review presentation†Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

Image credit: Aka / Wikimedia Commons

Related:
Nuts Donít Cause Expected Weight Gain
Go Nuts for Breast Cancer Prevention
Cholesterol Lowering in a Nut Shell

69 comments

Stenpney John
Past Member 2 years ago

You people have actually provided the best blogs that are easy to understand for the folks.

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Fi T.
Fi T.3 years ago

If we know when to stop

Amandine S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for the information

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

As a replacement or as an additional item.

John B.
John B.3 years ago

Thanks Dr. Greger for the article and video.

Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga3 years ago

yum

John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Added? Or replaced?

B Jackson
BJ J.3 years ago

Have been making my own trail mix for a long time. It's easy and you can use whatever you want.

Connie O.
ConnieAway O.3 years ago

love nuts and dried fruit!

Leena K.
Leena K.3 years ago

Thanks.