Here's the mid-morning snack that helps keep body weight and hunger attacks under control and fight cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, a handful of almonds! This is what emerges from a very recent scientific research published in the European Journal of Nutrition by an Australian team from the University of South Australia (Carter et al, European Journal of Nutrition, 2022).
Obesity and overweight, a problem to be tackled
Obesity and overweight are a real public health problem. In fact, these conditions are connected to other physical and psychological disorders, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and cellular degeneration. For these reasons, science is directing its attention to how to counteract overweight, with changes in lifestyle and diet that are also capable of improving the hormonal response in order to modulate the sense of appetite. Much has been discussed about the role of dried fruit. In fact, dried fruit is very caloric and at first sight you can expect a weight gain by including it in your daily diet. Instead, studies have shown that the intake of dried fruit does not cause an increase in body weight and can actually lead to a reduction in waist circumference. How can this be explained? The study we are talking about today goes into this topic by showing how dried fruit acts within our body, reducing the risk of overweight and obesity.
Almonds against overweight and obesity, the study
The researchers recruited 140 volunteers, all overweight or obese and aged between 25 and 65 years. Study participants were asked, after a night spent fasting, to eat a snack consisting of almonds, 30-50 grams, or a snack containing the same calories. The volunteers then underwent blood tests immediately after eating the snack and up to two hours afterward, with tests every 30 minutes. Then, the study participants were invited to eat a buffet at will. What emerged was that those, who had eaten the almonds, during the buffet had limited their caloric intake, reducing it by about 300kJ or 70 kcal compared to those who had not eaten the almonds. It may seem small at first glance, but this has significant long-term effects. Not only that, blood tests have shown that dried fruit improves the hormonal response regulating appetite. In particular, those who had consumed almonds had a 47% reduction in C-peptide, which has the effect of improving insulin sensitivity and reducing the risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In addition to this, the group that ate almonds also had a 39% increase in a particular hormone, glucagon, which has the task of sending the satiety signal to the brain, and a 44% increase in pancreatic polypeptide, which slows down digestion and therefore makes you feel fuller for longer. All of these effects, in the long run, contribute to weight loss, if needed, or to weight control, if you are not overweight.
The study indicates that including almonds in your daily diet not only does it not make you fat, as one might fear given their caloric intake, but it helps to reduce the waistline and, in the long term, to fight overweight and obesity. Almonds make you feel full longer and reduce hunger attacks and calories ingested at subsequent meals. Not only that, almonds activate hormones that protect against diabetes and cardiovascular disease.