I don’t know about you when the stress levels accelerate or the weather starts to get nippy, I feel more inclined to snack. It appears that I am not alone; according to a study published online in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 97% of adults report consuming at least one snack a day. Not only has snacking become common practice, but people snack more often and the snacks themselves are larger than ever. Supersize that snack! Yikes!
Fortunately, the next time a craving hits, there may be a better option than a bag of chips: almonds. In fact, Purdue University researchers report that eating 1.5 ounces daily of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds may reduce hunger without affecting body weight.
I bet that you thought that nuts are fattening, right?
To test the almond theory, the researchers asked a group of 137 adults to:
- Avoid all nuts and seeds
- Consume 1.5 ounces of almonds daily with either breakfast or lunch
- Eat 1.5 ounces of almonds daily in between either breakfast or lunch (i.e. within two hours of the last meal and at least two hours before the next meal)
Other than the inclusion or exclusion of almonds at a defined time, all participants followed usual eating and physical activity patterns. They also met with a nurse weekly to record weight and dietary habits and discuss sensations of hunger , fullness or desire to eat. Additionally, at various benchmarks throughout the four weeks that the study took place, blood and blood sugar information were calculated.
Here’s the interesting part: despite an additional 250 calories a day from an almond snack, none of the adults participating in the study increased the total number of calories they consumed in a day or gained weight over the four week study. Additionally, eating almonds as a snack rather than part of a meal or avoiding them altogether appeared to significantly suppress hunger or the desire to snack. Another benefit gleaned from eating an almond snack was an improvement in overall vitamin E and monounsaturated fat profiles, which respectively, can help protect cells from damage and promote better absorption of nutrients from the foods that we eat, as well as improve heart health.
Mind you, conclusions can only be made with regard to the short term benefits of almonds. But in so far as snacking? Almonds may be the optimal snack, increasing a sense of fullness, decreasing caloric intake and counteracting the constant snacking desire, all without increasing overall weight. Craving a nibble? Reach for a handful of almonds.