Incorporating almonds into daily meals or snacks may increase satiety and reduce the desire to eat without causing weight gain, according to a new study.
The almond is closely related to the peach, apricot, and cherry (all classified as drupes). Unlike its relatives, however, the outer layer of the almond is not edible. The edible portion of the almond is the seed.
Sweet almonds are a popular nutritious food. Researchers are especially interested in their level of monounsaturated fats, as these appear to have a beneficial effect on blood lipids. Sweet almond has been suggested as a treatment for many conditions. There is some research support for the use of whole sweet almonds as cholesterol-lowering agents, although it is not clear what dose may be safe and effective.
In a recent study, researchers randomly assigned 137 people with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes to eat 43 grams of almonds daily with breakfast or lunch, to eat them alone as a morning or afternoon snack, or to eat no almonds at all for four weeks. Various outcome measures, such as appetite responses and oral glucose tolerance tests, were evaluated before treatment and after the four weeks.
The researchers found that almonds reduced blood sugar responses after eating, noting that these responses were greatest when almonds were eaten as a snack. Additionally, when almonds were eaten as a snack, they reduced the urge to eat. Monounsaturated fat and alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) consumption significantly increased in all almond groups. Furthermore, without specific guidance from the researchers, participants in the almond groups reduced their daily energy intake to account for the energy added by the almonds.
The authors concluded that incorporating almonds into the diet may reduce appetite without increasing the risk for weight gain and suggested their use as a healthy snack. Further research is warranted.
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