The Skinny on Fat
To keep hearts and bodies in the best shape possible, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight.1 That’s why integrating almonds into products or recipes is not only a smart choice, but also a satisfying one. Almonds offer key lifestyle benefits, including fewer calories for more nutrients, tempting crunch, and undeniable tasty flavor.
• An ounce of almonds provides 4 grams of filling fiber, “good” monounsaturated fat and 6 grams of energy-rich protein.2*
• A recent study shows that whole almonds may provide the body with just 129 calories per ounce—that’s 20 percent fewer than the 160 calories Nutrition Facts labels currently state. The study takes into account the digestibility of whole almonds, and further research is needed to better understand the results of the study and how this technique for calculating calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods.3
• Consumers can feel extra confident about their choice to consume almonds as a snack. A study by Dr. Richard Mattes, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that consuming 43 grams (1.5 oz) of almonds a day as a snack or including them in a meal did not increase calorie intake over the course of the day or lead to weight gain over four weeks in the participants studied.2 The study also suggests that almonds are a smart snack choice, helping curb hunger and desire to eat with their satiating qualities.2
- The Study: A study was conducted to determine the effect of almonds eaten at a meal or as a snack on blood sugar, appetite and body weight. To evaluate the measured effect, 137 otherwise healthy adults at increased risk of type 2 diabetes were assigned randomly to one of five groups for four weeks: a control group that did not consume nuts or seeds during the study period, and two meal groups and two snack groups that consumed 43 grams, or 1.5 oz. of whole almonds daily at assigned breakfast or lunch meal times, or morning or afternoon snack times, respectively. Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were performed at baseline, along with height, weight, body fat, waist circumference and blood pressure measurements. A 24-hour dietary recall was completed with a registered dietitian and “hunger’, “fullness” and “desire to eat” sensations were captured using visual analog scales. Acute feeding sessions involving an overnight fast and consecutive blood samplings after ingestion of meals or snacks were performed one week after the OGTT and at the end of the four weeks. Participants underwent weekly follow-up visits where weight was recorded, 24-hour dietary intake and appetite sensation ratings were assessed.
Limitations: The study was short in duration and did not measure the long-term impact of consuming almonds as a snack. The measures of hunger, desire to eat and fullness are subjective measures with uncertain effects on actual calorie or nutrient intake.
• Additionally, in a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, a mid-morning snack of almonds helped control participants’ appetite, which resulted in a reduced calorie intake for the remainder of the day.1
- The Study: The effects of two different portions of almonds as a mid-morning snack on satiety and energy intake were compared to having no snack as a control in a randomized crossover design, meaning that each participant completed all 3 interventions – no almonds, 1 ounce of almonds, and 1.5 ounces of almonds. Study participants were 32 healthy, normal weight (average BMI 22.7) adult women with an average age of 48.4 years.
On each test day, participants consumed all meals under supervision at the study site. They were not permitted to eat or drink between meals other than the assigned snack intervention. Participants completed baseline appetite ratings, and then were given their usual breakfast at 8:30 am. The same breakfast was given to each volunteer on all three test days, ensuring that all participants felt their typical level of fullness after breakfast. They were then given a mid-morning snack at 11 am of no almonds, 1 oz. or 1.5 oz. of almonds to consume within 15 minutes.
At 12:30 pm, participants were then provided lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches and strawberry yogurt and permitted to eat as much as they wanted until they were comfortably full. Appetite ratings were then assessed every 30 minutes until dinner was served at 5:30pm. Once again, participants were instructed to eat as much as they wanted, until comfortably full, of pasta with tomato and cheese sauces and lemon cake. 3.5 oz. of water was provided with each meal and participants were instructed to drink all the water. Subjective ratings of appetite and fullness were measured at regular intervals using VAS (visual analogue scale) ratings, and energy intake was assessed by weighing the meals before and after consumption.
Limitations: The study was conducted in normal weight people, and findings may not be applicable in overweight and obese people, and only assessed the short-term (1 day) effects of eating almonds on satiety and energy intake. Habitual almond intake was not controlled for, and a control snack food of equal energy and volume to the almond snacks was not tested.
• Almonds are considered a good fit with many popular weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers™, the Mediterranean Diet and the South Beach Diet™.
So, think of almonds when developing products to meet consumers’ demand for wholesome snacks with appealing taste and texture. They are a simple way to please even the pickiest palates while staying satisfied throughout the day.
More recent research updates can be found here:
1. Hull S, Re R, Chambers L, Echaniz A, Wickham SJ. A mid-morning snack generates satiety and appropriate adjustment of subsequent food intake in healthy women. European Journal of Nutrition 2014; DOI 10.1007/s00394-014-0759-z.
2. Tan YT, Mattes RD. Appetitive, dietary and health effects of almonds consumed with meals or as snacks: a randomized, controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2013.
3. Novotny JA, Gebauer SK, Baer DJ. 2012. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. Amer J. Clin. Nutr. doi:10.3945/ ajcn.112.035782.
*Good news about good fat: U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that the majority of your fat intake be unsaturated. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.