October 9, 2013
Snacking On Almonds Curbs Your Appetite Without Adding Pounds
April Flowers for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
An estimated 97% of Americans consume at least one snack per day, making snacking nearly universal. A new study led by Purdue University researchers found that individuals who ate 1.5 ounces of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds daily experienced decreased appetite and improved levels of dietary vitamin E and monounsaturated (“good”) fat intake. The findings, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also showed that there was no increase in body weight.
The researchers say that in light of the increasing frequency of snacking and the larger size of snacks being consumed by US adults, combined with the continuing increase in obesity rates and widespread nutrient shortfalls, it is critical to identify snacks that pose little risk for weight gain while providing health benefits. The risk for weight gain is high with to much snacking, but focusing on this aspect may hide different positive health effects of select snack foods.
The new clinical study lasted four weeks and was designed to investigate the effects of almond snacking on weight and appetite. It included 137 adult participants who were at an increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
Study participants were divided into five groups: a control group that avoided all nuts and seeds, a breakfast meal group and lunch meal group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds each with their daily breakfast or lunch, and a morning snack group and afternoon snack group that each consumed 1.5 ounces of almonds between their customary meals. The almond snacks were eaten approximately two hours after and two hours before meals.
Other than to follow their usual eating patterns and physical activity, the participants were not given any additional dietary instructions. The researchers judged compliance with almond consumption through self-reported intake assessments and fasting vitamin E plasma levels. The participants did not increase the total number of calories they ate or drank over the course of the day, despite adding approximately 250 calories of almonds, nor did they gain weight over the four-week study period.
“This research suggests that almonds may be a good snack option, especially for those concerned about weight,” says Richard Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University. “In this study, participants compensated for the additional calories provided by the almonds so daily energy intake did not rise and reported reduced hunger levels and desire to eat at subsequent meals, particularly when almonds were consumed as a snack.”
Previous studies have shown that almonds increase satiety in both normal and overweight subjects, which might be attributed to almonds’ monounsaturated fat (13 grams/ounce), protein (6 grams/ounce) and fiber (4 grams/ounce) content. The research team says that further research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms. Whole almonds contain 20% fewer calories than the Nutrition Panel states, according to another study that measured digestibility. This suggests that because of their rigid cell structure, not all calories are available for absorption. Again, additional research is necessary to understand how this technique for calculating calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods.
Snacking can be a weight-wise strategy, the current study suggests, depending on the food consumed. The study suggests that almonds are a smart snack choice that can help support a healthy weight based on the combined positive effects of daily almond consumption seen in participants on hunger, appetite control, and vitamin E and monounsaturated fat intake.