Children in a recent study who consumed a higher ratio of polyunsaturated fatty acids through a diet that included more tree nuts, seeds and fatty fish had a leaner body mass, lower percentage of body fat and less belly fat.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center conducted the research in collaboration with scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The study included 311 racially diverse children between the ages of seven and 12. Supervised by parents, the subjects provided two separate reports of their dietary intakes. The researchers analyzed the kids’ body composition and belly fat using dual energy x-rays and tomography scans, which reveal layers of the body.
"Studies have identified a variety of benefits of including PUFAs into an adult's diet, particularly omega-3 fatty acids," Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD, the study's lead author, said in a university release. "Our data suggests that consumption of PUFAs is associated with improved body composition in diverse groups of children.” Cardel noted that as the study was cross-sectional, it cannot be said that the results concluded that PUFAs caused the leaner profiles. Randomized experiments are needed for that. The results were published in The Journal of Nutrition and noted on sciencedaily.com.
"Hopefully this work will stimulate additional research to determine if there is a causal relationship between dietary PUFAs, body fat and lean mass in kids," Cardel said.
Research released earlier this summer linked young people’s consumption of PUFA-packed nuts to leaner, healthier bodies in the future. That study found that adolescents who ate the equivalent of a small handful of nuts three times per week (the equivalent of 12.9 grams daily), cut their chances of developing metabolic syndrome in half, according to the study.