A handful of almonds could keep extra pounds at bay, according to new research from the University of South Australia, published in the scientific journal 'European Journal of Nutrition'.
By examining how almonds can affect appetite, the researchers found that a snack of 30-50 grams of almonds could help people reduce the number of kilojoules they consume each day.
The study revealed that people who ate almonds -in lieu of a carbohydrate snack of energy equivalent value- reduced their energy intake by 300 kilojoules (most of which came from junk food) at the next meal. "Rates of overweight and obesity are a major public health problem, and appetite modulation through improved hormonal response may be key to promoting weight control," says study leader Dr. Sharayah Carter.
The research examined the hormones that regulate appetite, and how nuts -specifically almonds- may help control appetite.
"We found that people who ate almonds experienced changes in appetite-regulating hormones, and that these could have contributed to reducing food intake (by 300kJ)," said the researcher.
Globally, nine billion adults are overweight and 650 million of them are obese.
The study found that people who ate almonds had 47% fewer C-peptide responses (which can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease); and higher levels of glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (18% higher), glucagon (39% higher), and pancreatic polypeptide (44% higher) responses.
Glucagon sends satiety signals to the brain, while pancreatic polypeptide slows digestion, which can reduce food intake, both of which promote weight loss.
"Almonds are high in protein, fiber and unsaturated fatty acidswhich may contribute to its satiating properties and help explain why fewer kilojoules were consumed," he remarked.
The results of this study show that the consumption of almonds produces small changes in people's energy intake. Carter says this can have long-term clinical effects.
"Even small positive lifestyle changes can have a long-term impact. When we make small, sustainable changes, we're more likely to improve our overall health in the long term. Almonds are a fantastic healthy snack to incorporate into your daily diet.. We are now excited to study how almonds can affect appetite during a weight loss diet and how they can help with long-term weight management," Carter concluded.