Love nuts? Your nutcracker may be your best friend.

by Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Posted on Dec 17, 02:33 PM in and . Comments [1].

I love nuts, especially at Christmas. To me, it isnt quite Christmas if we dont have a lovely selection of nuts available as nibbles for guests who “pop in”. The thing is, they can be awfully tempting and can add a considerable amount of calories if amounts aren’t controlled. If you are a nut lover and are watching your weight, there is a solution- make sure you buy nuts in their shells.

This was demonstrated in a study looking at shelled versus unshelled pistachio nuts.

In the study, 140 students were recruited and told they were evaluating a variety of brands of pistachios. The students were placed into two groups. They were then given pistachios and were allowed to self select their portion of the nuts to eat freely during a class. The first group of students were given pistachios in shells and the second group had shelled nuts. Portions eaten and calories consumed were calculated after each session. Researchers found that the students who were offered the pistachios in the shells ate 41% fewer calories than those who ate the shelled nuts. They concluded that the difference in calories consumed may be due to the additional time needed to shell the nuts or the extra volume perceived when consuming in-shell nuts.

So, if you want to cut your calories when eating nuts, buy nuts in their shells. They look seasonal and you can get your best Christmas nutcracker out for you and your guests. Could even be a lovely idea for a Christmas gift!


Appetite. 2011 Oct;57(2):414-7. Epub 2011 May 27.
In-shell pistachio nuts reduce caloric intake compared to shelled nuts.
Honselman CS, Painter JE, Kennedy-Hagan KJ, Halvorson A, Rhodes K, Brooks TL, Skwir K.

Tags: Nutcracker, Nuts, Pistachios, Weight

About the author

Anne Myers-Wright

Anne Myers-Wright RD/APD

Anne is a Health Professions Council (HPC) registered dietitian (RD), an Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD- Australia), a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), a member of the British Dietetic Association, The Nutrition Society and of The Dietetics Association of Australia.


  1. That’s a really interesting article. I am going to stick to eating nuts that I have to shell in future. I think the packs the nuts are sold in are smaller too, also meaning less calories. You also get a work out, prising the shells off the ones that haven’t opened properly!

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