How many times have you reached out to all kinds of nuts but not almonds as a snack, thinking that the latter have high fat, albeit they have the unsaturated or the good fat? Now new research from the University of South Australia has shown that you can eat almonds and lose weight too, quite safely at that.
In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that including almonds in an energy-restricted diet not only helped people lose weight by 7 kg, it also improved their cardiometabolic health.
HOW DO ALMONDS WORK FOR WEIGHT LOSS
“Almonds are high in protein and fibre, both of which lend satiety value, which means they keep you full longer, prevent frequent hunger pangs and, therefore, keep you away from your tendency to have junk food laden with trans fats. So that helps keep to your weight loss goals,” says Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Nutritionist, Apollo Hospitals.
WHY YOU SHOULD NOT WORRY ABOUT THE GOOD FAT?
“Almonds also have a high fat content. And though the fat is healthy, there’s a misconception too much of a good thing is also bad for body weight. But good fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and protein. So eating healthy fats can help keep a check on mindless overeating and snacking. Fat has nine calories per gram, whereas carbohydrates contain four calories per gram. This means that you feel full with half the carbohydrates you are used to if you include good fats in your diet,” says Dr Rohatgi.
“Also, when you limit your carbohydrate intake and increase your good fat intake, your body metabolism improves. This means your fat-burning rate perks up. Since these fats improve blood cholesterol levels, ease inflammation and contribute to a healthy heart, they improve your energy levels and overall sense of well-being,” she adds.
Fats are essential to a healthy diet. “For sustainable weight loss, all guidelines recommend good fats to meet 20-35 per cent of your total energy intake, with lower ranges closer to 20 per cent,” says Dr Rohatgi.
AN INDIAN STUDY SHOWED LIPID CONTROL TOO
An Indian study had also shown how whole almonds add protein, total dietary fibre, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), vitamin E and potassium to your diet without increasing energy intake. “We conducted one of the first research studies in 2017 to show that almonds improve lipid and inflammatory parameters, the root cause of our non-communicable diseases. Titled ‘Effect of Almond Supplementation on Glycemia and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Asian Indians in North India with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus,’ it was spread over 24 weeks. At the end of the period, participants reported that their Waist circumference and waist-to-height ratio (WhTR) decreased significantly after almond supplementation,” says Dr Dr Seema Gulati, National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (NDOC) Centre for Nutrition Research.
The Australian study had 106 participants complete a nine-month eating programme (a three-month energy-restricted diet for weight loss, followed by a six-month energy-controlled diet for weight maintenance). In both phases, 15 per cent of participants’ energy intake comprised whole almonds with skins.
“Have almonds with the skin on. Such findings offer a ray of hope and provide practical dietary options for individuals striving to lose weight while maintaining their heart health. Ultimately, it reinforces the notion that not all fats are created equal, and incorporating nutrient-dense foods like almonds can be a smart choice for those on a weight loss journey,” adds Dr Rohatgi.