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The Perfect Snack
Almonds are among the healthiest nuts you can eat. Their benefits are many and range from improved skin complexion, to reducing the risk of strokes and heart attacks. Almonds are a super-food.
A new study says substituting almonds for less healthy foods could help dieters stick to a calorie-controlled diet, and lower their cholesterol at the same time.
“Nuts, and in this case almonds, shouldn’t be on the ‘do not eat’ list, they can be effectively incorporated in a weight loss plan, with the caveat that they have to be portion controlled,” said Dr. Gary Foster, who led the study at Temple University in Philadelphia.
The study is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and supported by the Almond Board of California, involved 123 generally healthy but obese people who followed a calorie-controlled diet for 18 months. Women ate 1,200-1,500 calories per day, while men ate 1,500-1,800.
They are a good source of protein and fiber with a 95 grams serving (1 cup) providing 11.6 grams or 46% of your recommended daily dietary fiber intake and 20.2 grams or 40% of your recommended daily protein intake. The same amount provides 125% of your RDA of vitamin E, 64% magnesium, 25% calcium and 20% iron. Almonds also contain significant amounts of essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 which are abundant in fish products.
Half the people, assigned at random by researchers, were given two 28-gram packages of almonds (about 24 almonds per package) to eat each day. That works out to about 350 calories’ worth. The other half agreed to avoid nuts altogether. When researchers checked in with dieters after six months, they found that the nut-free dieters had lost slightly more weight than the almond eaters: 16 pounds compared to 12 pounds, on average. A year later, both groups had gained some of their weight back, and there was no longer a clear difference in total weight loss between participants who did and didn’t eat almonds.
Past research also suggests that nuts like almonds might play a role in reducing risk factors for heart disease. This means that even for those of us not dieting to lose weight, almonds can be a better snack over chips and candy.