Including almonds in an energy-restricted diet may help lose weight and improve cardiometabolic health, a new study suggests.
The study from the University of South Australia (UniSA) published in the journal Obesity included 106 adult participants with overweight or obesity.
They completed a nine-month eating program consisting of a three-month energy-restricted diet for weight loss and a six-month energy-controlled diet for weight maintenance.
The participants were randomly assigned either to the nut diet, where they received 15% of their energy intake from unsalted whole almonds with skins, or the nut-free diet, where 15% of total calories came from carbohydrate-rich snacks, such as rice crackers or baked cereal bars.
Participants consumed 30–50 g of almonds or high-carb snacks 6 days a week.
At the end of the trial, most (82%) participants had lost at least 5% of their body weight. On average, both groups lost about 7kg (15.4 lbs), equivalent to 9.3% of their body weight. Additionally, both diets improved cardiometabolic health.
"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."Dr. Sharayah Carter, a UniSA researcher
However, the authors note that clinically significant weight loss is likely responsible for improved cardiometabolic risk factors, such as body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels, seen in both groups.
The study has some caveats, including the small sample size. Additionally, the participants were free from chronic disease, meaning cardiometabolic parameters generally fell within the recommended ranges.
The research was funded by the Almond Board of California, a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The researchers conclude that replacing typical snacks with almonds may have a meaningful impact on lipoprotein subfractions.
Carter says, “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.”
Nuts for healthy weight loss
Nuts are rich in protein and fiber and are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Being high in fats, nuts earned a bad reputation among dieters. However, these fats are unsaturated — healthy fats — that may help to reduce bad cholesterol levels, ease inflammation, and improve heart health.
Previous research linked nut consumption to lower BMI. Although the mechanisms underlying this relationship are unclear, they can be related to appetite regulation, increased resting energy expenditure, and inefficient energy absorption from nuts.
Diets that include nuts, for example, the Mediterranean diet or Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), are recommended for cardiovascular disease prevention and management.
Nevertheless, increased nut consumption is not enough for healthy weight loss. It is essential to discuss weight loss strategies with your healthcare provider, who may suggest following a balanced diet, increasing physical activity levels, and managing stress.
- Obesity. Almonds vs. carbohydrate snacks in an energy-restricted diet: Weight and cardiometabolic outcomes from a randomized trial.
- University of South Australia. Weight loss? ‘Nuting’ to worry about with almonds.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Losing Weight.