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 new study.
Satiety has been called the 'Holy Grail of nutrition' and is seen as a key target in the battle against obesity, which is taking a heavy toll around the globe. More than 29% of South African men and 56% of South African women are currently classified as overweight or obese, according to the latest statistics by the Medical Research Council of South Africa.
Foods marketed for satiety 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 research study
A new study, presented at the North American Association for the Study of Obesity: The Obesity Society Annual Scientific Meeting 2006, reports that eating a handful or two of almonds every day may fit into this category.
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.
Displacing other foods
"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.
Another explanation, suggested the researchers, is 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. - (Decision News Media, October 2006)
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