Let it Al-mond Hang Out!

If you love nuts, almonds are exceptionally beneficial and delicious.

Our friends at the Almond Board of California (visit www.almonds.com for info and scrumptious recipes) find and review scientific research about how almonds in various forms can affect diet and health.

A study published only last year showed that almonds in just about every form had fewer calories than what was listed on the package (Gebauer, et al, Food & Function, 2016). According to the Almond Board of California, which funded the research, performed by USDA food scientists, both roasted and unroasted almonds provide fewer calories than originally thought—and that the number of calories is largely dependent upon the form of almonds. Specifically, this study showed that 25% fewer calories are absorbed from whole unroasted almonds, while roasted almonds offer 17% to 19% fewer calories, compared to the number of calories listed on nutrition labels.

In this study, the research team expanded upon the traditional method used to determine calories by including measurement of the number of calories actually digested and absorbed from a food. Four years prior, this team conducted its first study using whole roasted almonds — they showed that the almonds contained fewer calories than thought (Novotny, et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2012). This time, the research team broadened their investigation to examine the calorie availability of other almond forms, and also replicated the measurement of calories absorbed from whole roasted almonds.

What’s interesting is that just about all forms of almonds you can buy – with the sole exception of almond butter – provides fewer calories than what’s on the Nutrition Facts panels.

According to the food scientists at the Almond Board of California, the discrepancy in calories has a technical reason — mechanical processes, such as roasting, chopping and grinding disrupt the cell wall of almonds and affect particle size. Particle size is also affected when almonds are chewed and digested in the body. The larger the particle size, the less the almond is broken down by digestive enzymes and the more of the almond is excreted, so fewer calories are absorbed. The reverse is also true: the smaller the particle size, the more calories are absorbed.

Researcher David Baer, PhD, explained that, “Calories are created equal but their availability from foods is not equal. These new findings confirm that we actually get fewer calories than we thought from almonds¬¬, whether they are whole or chopped, roasted or unroasted, and the amount of calories absorbed is mostly dependent on the form of almonds consumed.”

This study on the calorie availability of almonds adds to a growing body of evidence showing that a simple snack of almonds can play an important role in healthy weight maintenance. In fact, one study published in the European Journal of Nutrition (2014) found that a mid-morning snack of almonds (1 to 1.5 oz) helped control appetite, resulting in lower calorie intake by the participants, 32 healthy women, during the rest of the day. The study suggests that almonds may be a smart snack option given they acutely enhanced satiety, the feeling of fullness, without increasing total daily calorie consumption.

One ounce of almonds gives you 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber plus good fats and essential nutrients like vitamin E and magnesium. They are a satisfying snack that also serve as an effective weight-management tool.

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