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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

That’s nutty! Almonds can enhance weight loss, boost heart health – despite high-fat content

ADELAIDE, Australia — While nuts are often overlooked in weight loss plans due to their high-fat content, Australian researchers are challenging this notion, revealing that almonds can actually aid in slimming down. Touted as the largest-of-its-kind study, University of South Australia scientists discovered that when people added almonds to a calorie-restrictive diet, not only did they lose weight, but their overall heart health improved as well.

According to the study, diets supplemented with Californian almonds and diets rich in carbohydrate snacks both led to a similar weight reduction, with participants losing over 15 pounds (7kg).

The staggering global obesity statistics emphasize the importance of these findings. Over 1.9 billion adults worldwide are overweight, with 650 million classified as obese.

“Nuts, like almonds, are a great snack. They’re high in protein, fiber, and packed with vitamins and minerals, but they also have a high fat content which people can associate with increased body weight,” says Dr. Sharayah Carter, a UniSA researcher, in a university release. “Nuts contain unsaturated fats – or healthy fats – which can improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, and contribute to a healthy heart.”

(Credit: Kafeel Ahmed from Pexels)

The study further compared an almond-supplemented diet with a nut-free diet, aiming to discern their effects on weight and heart-related outcomes.

“Both the nut and nut-free diets resulted in approximately 9.3 percent reduction in body weight over the trial,” notes Dr. Carter. “Yet the almond-supplemented diets also demonstrated statistically significant changes in some highly atherogenic lipoprotein subfractions, which may lead to improved cardiometabolic health in the longer term. Additionally, nuts have the added benefit of making you feel fuller for longer, which is always a pro when you’re trying to manage your weight.”

The nine-month study — funded by the Almond Board of California — had 106 participants embark on a structured eating program. This included a three-month calorie-restricted diet for weight reduction, followed by a six-month calorie-controlled regimen for weight maintenance.

During both phases, one group consumed 15 percent of their energy intake from unsalted whole almonds, while the other consumed 15 percent from carbohydrate-rich snacks like rice crackers or cereal bars.

The study is published in the journal Obesity.

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