You’ve probably heard at some point that almonds are pretty damn good for you. Among other things, they can help lower your blood pressure, fill you up, provide you with plenty of fiber and protein, and can easily be stashed in your bag for a snack. Now, there’s one more reason to consider developing an almond habit: It may help your jeans fit better.
A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition found a link between daily almond consumption and weight loss, specifically belly fat.
For the study, researchers followed 86 overweight or obese people on calorie-restricted diets for 12 weeks. Some of the participants ate 35 grams (about one-quarter cup) of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds per day and the other group was on a nut-free diet. The researchers found that those who noshed on almonds lost more total fat and belly fat than those who didn’t.
It’s not totally shocking that almonds might help people lose weight—they have a lot of hunger-fighting protein and super-satisfying monounsaturated fat, both of which have been found to help with weight loss. (A quarter cup of almonds has six grams of protein and nine grams of monounsaturated fat.) But the belly fat part is kind of mind-blowing.
According to the study, almond eaters lost more than 1 percent of their belly fat, while their almond-free counterparts lost less than half of a percent.
Researchers say that belly-blasting bonus might have something to do with the almonds’ high unsaturated fat content. “Unsaturated fats have high fat oxidation rates that can preferentially reduce visceral fat,” the study authors write.
Before you dive straight into a can of almonds, keep this in mind: People who lost weight during the study only ate a quarter cup of almonds, which kept their calories in check. Plus, they were on a calorie-restricted diet, so they were bound to lose weight regardless of whether they were noshing on nuts or not.