The benefits of almonds on satiety appear to outweigh their calorific value according to dietician and TV presenter Lucy Jones, speaking recently at Food Matters Live.
A number of studies now indicate that the effect of almonds on fullness and satiety, important elements in weight control, reduces subsequent energy intake to offset the calories provided by the almonds.
“So many people are worried about the calorie content of nuts and the implications that could have on weight management,” said Jones. “But there's actually a really large body of research that indicates that’s just not the case. The satiety impact of almonds, and indeed other nuts, is such that you tend to spontaneously reduce intake.
“Almonds as a snack helps to increase fullness, (particularly having that mid-morning), exerts a day long effect on your overall calorie intake, and your satiety through the day,” she added.
Additionally, a study of appetite control (also important in obesity prevention), found that eating almonds could actually modify the subsequent desire to eat high-fat, ‘hedonistic’ foods.
“A study that looked at appetite control showed that consumption of almonds actually decreased the craving for high-fat foods and lowered the hedonic preference that people were experiencing for high-fat foods later on,” said Jones.
Previous research has shown that consuming almonds has a beneficial effect on lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, while maintaining HDL. Almonds have also demonstrated benefits for diabetes in reducing blood glucose levels.
“Weight management findings have been very interesting, they seem to have powerful satiety effects that help to reduce overeating,” commented Jones
Protein/fibre combo for satiety
The satiety effects are likely due to the combination of high fibre and high protein contents of almonds. One serving of 28 grams (g) (around 23 nuts) contains 4g of fibre and 6g of protein, she explained.
Although the calorific value of a serving of almonds is nominally 160 calories, new research has suggested that eaten whole and unroasted, the effective calorie content is 25% lower than this due to incomplete digestion and absorption. The reduced absorption and digestion is due to the shape, texture and fibre content of the whole raw nuts, explained Jones.
She added that when roasted or chopped, the absorption-adjusted calorie content is 19% below the label description, while almond butter was found to have the same calorie content as specified on the packet – reflecting significantly greater absorption in this form.
Almonds also fit well into current consumer trends towards increased demand for plant-based protein and snacking, Jones suggested.
“So the research is supporting almonds as a snack that delivers protein and fibre to have a satiating effect that results in reduced appetite and lower day-long calorie intake which is helpful in weight management,” she concluded.