The arginine content of nuts may explain their metabolism boosting effects, though in a list of the top food sources of arginine, nuts don’t even make the top ten.
Images thanks to David Kent, Glane23, Evan-Amos, Sanjay ach, PiccoloNamek, and Yuriy75 via Wikimedia Commons; Cat Sidh, Paul Goyette, and toconnor1 via Flickr; and Tuinboon_zaden_in_peul, IvanNedialkov Paparaka, Jack Dykinga, USDA ARS, gran, and Sanjay Acharya.
How do nuts boost fat burning within the body? A paper out of Texas A&M last year suggests that it may be the arginine content of nuts. How does arginine get the job done? They’re not sure: “The underlying mechanisms are likely complex at molecular, cellular, and whole-body levels—in other words they have no clue— but they do review the evidence that they may include the stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis—more power plants per cell—and brown adipose tissue development, which is what your body uses to generate body heat, so you’d be converting more of your fat into heat. Either way they suspect arginine to play an important role in fighting the current global obesity epidemic.
Well, then where in the diet do you find arginine? I’ll give you a hint. According to the CDC, 78 million Americans aren’t getting enough. So you know the top few sources have got to be healthy foods, and indeed, here’s the list for the top 15 food sources of arginine you’d likely find in a typical store: #1 soy protein isolate (6.7), what they make veggie burgers and meat-free hot dogs and the like out of, #2 Pumpkin and squash seeds (5.4g/100g) #4 watermelon seeds (4.9)—isn’t that crazy? Not as crazy as #5, fried pork rinds (4.8)—I’m not kidding. Maybe Americans should have more than I think! #6 bbq flavored bork rinds (4.5) It must concentrate in the skin, #7 sesame seeds (3.3), #8 peanuts 3.25 #9 soiybeans 3.15 #10 peanut butter 2.7 #11 tahini (2.68) #12 almonds, 2.5 g; #13 pine nuts 2.4 #14 fava beans 2.4. #15 sunflower seeds 2.4
So basically soy, seeds, nuts, and beans for arginine. Although dried beluga whale meat has a lot, the first nonpork rind animal food you could actually find in a typical store clocks in the USDA database at 95th down the list, bacon.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.
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This is video #6 in a seven-part series on the fascinating phenomenon of Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories. I review the balance of evidence as to why nuts don't tend to contribute to weight gain in Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence, introduced two theories on Monday, both of which were put to the test in a study on peanut butter, see Testing the Pistachio Principle. Then came an elegant study using walnut smoothies, followed by the big reveal in yesterday's video-of-the-day Testing the Fat Burning Theory. Arginine may indeed explain the thermogenic effect of nuts, but it also might be the flavonoid phytonutrients, which we'll explore tomorrow. Should one avoid soy protein isolate even though it's such a concentrated source of arginine? Stay tuned—I'm going to cover that when I cover IGF-1 and the cancer growth reversal studies. I offer a sneak peak in my full-length 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death. If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.