Did you know you can enjoy a healthy handful of nuts a day and you will be doing your body a favour? New research conducted by the University of South Australia and supported by the Almond Board of California, the largest study of its kind, found that almonds were beneficial as part of a weight management diet. Great news for many Australians who are seeking to manage their body weight whilst still enjoying a varied diet. A healthy handful of almonds every day a delicious way to be helping our health. The study also showed benefits for heart health, music to our ears with coronary heart disease being the leading cause of death in Australia.
The study included 106 participants in Australia. They completed a nine-month eating program (a three-month energy-restricted diet for weight loss, followed by a six-month energy-controlled diet for weight maintenance). In both phases, 15% of participants’ energy intake comprised unsalted whole almonds with skins (for the nut diet) or 15% carbohydrate-rich snacks -– such as rice crackers or baked cereal bars (for the nut-free diet). The study found both energy restricted diets to reduce body weight and the diet including almonds not only assisted people to lose weight, but also had improved cardiometabolic health.
Nuts contain protein, dietary fibre and healthy fats, along with vitamins, minerals and other valuable nutrients. The healthy fats in almonds may be part of the reason for the improvements in the cardiac (heart) outcomes as healthy fats can improve cholesterol levels.
It is welcoming to see the tide turning as people embrace healthy fats as part of a balanced and varied diet, moving away from the era of low fat, over restrictive eating where nutritious foods were often unnecessarily avoided. Food should be viewed as the whole nutrition package and almonds certainly provide that, healthy fats and all.
Nuts due to the dietary fibre, protein and healthy fats can also help keep you full for longer, making them a great snack as well as addition to a meal.
The Australia Health Survey data shows that nut intake is low at just 4.6g per day, with just two per cent of Australians meeting the 30g suggested daily target. Aiming for a healthy handful a day will give people around 30grams.
If it’s not enough to know eating almonds regularly for the benefits of weight management, reducing coronary heart disease risk and all of the valuable nutrients they provide, the great taste might get you over the line!
Grab a handful a day and add them to your salad, stirfry, crush them into a curry or simply eat them on their own.
Written by: Simone Austin
Accredited practising Dietitian