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Almonds for Weight Control

Snacking on 1.5 ounces of almonds daily reduced hunger and didn’t lead to weight gainThe latest news on nuts comes from a Purdue University study showing that snacking on 1.5 ounces of almonds daily reduced hunger and didn’t lead to weight gain, even though participants continued eating their customary daily diets. The investigators also reported that by eating almonds the study participants boosted their vitamin E levels as well as their intake of healthy monounsaturated fats. The research team recruited 137 adults at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and divided them into five groups: a control group, separate breakfast and lunch groups and morning and afternoon snack groups. All of the groups except the controls ate 1.5 ounces of almonds daily, either with meals or as morning or afternoon snacks. (Those in the control group were told not to eat any nuts or seeds for the duration of the four-week study.) All the participants (with the exception of the controls) reported daylong reductions in hunger and the desire to eat, particularly those in the “snack” groups. No one gained weight. The researchers suggested that this might be due to compensating for nut consumption by unconsciously eating less food at meals or to inefficient absorption of calories from the almonds.

My take? We already know that nuts are good for us, and this study shows that eating them daily (in a limited amount) doesn’t cause weight gain and, in the case of almonds, improves intake of vitamin E and monounsaturated fat. Even better, the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health, which is monitoring the health of 86,000 nurses, has found that those who ate more than five ounces of nuts per week (for comparison, airline-size packets are about an ounce) had one third fewer heart attacks than those who rarely or never ate nuts. Other studies have supported these findings. I usually eat a handful of nuts per day - my favorites are cashews, almonds and walnuts.

Richard Mattes and Y.T. Tan “Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomized, controlled trial,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, doi:10.1038/ejcn.2013.184