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Almonds and Appetite

A handful of almonds, a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants, vitamin E and magnesium, may enhance the feeling of fullness in people and aid weight management suggests a study presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity: The Obesity Society Annual Scientific Meeting.

It reports that eating a handful or two of almonds every day may fit into this category. These types of foods enhance feelings of fullness after eating, acting as a boost to a person's will-power and helping them avoid a reversion to old habits in a bid to stave off hunger pangs, or 'grazing' in between meals.

The new research, funded by the Almond Board of California, looked at the effect of supplementing the diet of 20 overweight women with two servings (300 calories) of almonds a day for ten weeks. The women were divided into two groups, one eating almonds for ten weeks and then no almonds, while the other ate no nuts for ten weeks and then the almonds.

At the end of the study, the researchers, led by Richard Mattes from Purdue University, found that there were no changes in energy intake or body weight after almond supplementation. No changes in body fat, body weight, and BMI were observed.

"We concluded that the women found their daily almond snack to be very filling, and so they naturally compensated in their caloric intake at other times of the day," said Mattes. In other words, almond consumption could displace other foods from the diet, leading to a stable weight. Researchers also suggested that some of almonds' fat is not digested and absorbed so the estimated energy content listed on the food label is greater than the amount actually available to consumers.

The results need to be repeated in larger and longer intervention trials. Mechanistic studies are also needed to determine which compounds in the almonds could be exerting the potential satiating effect, and how this effect is achieved. Demand for almonds has increased in recent years as the tastes of various almond-eating ethnic communities have expanded into more mainstream foods. Also, the Almond Board has provoked greater consumption of the nut through better and more frequent marketing.