Don’t let the size of almonds fool you. These small nuts are packed with powerful health benefits. In fact, almonds may be the perfect snack food. They are high in vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, and fiber. But, almonds also appear to control appetite.
A recent study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating an ounce and a half of dry roasted and lightly salted almonds reduced hunger while increasing vitamin E levels and levels of monounsaturated fats, the healthiest fats out there. They were also found to improve glucose control.
An estimated 97% of Americans eat at least one snack food per day. The portion sizes of snack foods have increased, too. This contributes to excess calories and weight gain. So the finding that almonds help control appetite is signifiant as many snack foods tend to do the opposite.
The Almond Study
One hundred thirty-seven adults at risk for diabetes were included in the study and they were divided into five groups. The study lasted four weeks.
- Control group.
- Breakfast meal group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds with breakfast.
- Lunch meal group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds with lunch.
- Morning snack group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds between breakfast and lunch.
- Afternoon snack group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds between lunch and dinner.
All participants were told to follow their usual eating patterns and to maintain their usual physical activity levels. An ounce and a half of almonds equates to 250 calories. Despite consuming an “additional” 250 calories participants that ate almonds did not see their total daily caloric intake increase. In other words, they subconsciously ate 250 fewer calories elsewhere throughout the day to offset the almond calories because their appetites were suppressed.
This effect on appetite was more profound for those who ate almonds as an in-between meal snack.
How do Almonds Control Appetite?
Almonds probably control appetite due to its content of monounsaturated fats, protein, and fiber all of which increase satiety. Also, recently it’s been discovered that in the case of whole almonds, that because of the rigid cell structure of almonds that not all of the calories they contain are digestible and absorbable. About 20% of the calories in whole almonds are not available for absorption. So you are not getting as many calories as you think.
Next time you get a craving between meals reach for a handful of almonds!