The sounds of a grumbling stomach is often a signal to dash into the kitchen and reach into the pantry to find a snack to satisfy your hunger pangs. These moments of hunger probably happen pretty often — 97 percent of Americans consume at least one snack per day, USA Today reports. While most people snack on unhealthy foods like chips and crackers, snacking in-and-of-itself doesn’t need to be unhealthy. In fact, snacks can be a great way to get in extra nutrition and help prevent unhealthy eating habits. Almonds, for example, have been found to curb appetite as well as improve dietary vitamin E and good fat intake, all without increasing body weight, according to a recent study.
One of the best things about almonds is they fill you up, because of their high fiber and protein contents. A one ounce serving of almonds contains six grams of protein, or 10 percent of the daily value in a 2,000-calorie diet. Protein is key because its better at making you feel full than fat or carbohydrates, says the National Dairy Council. In addition to protein, the fiber content in almonds manipulates the body into feeling full by soaking up the stomach’s water and fat. This leads to less calorie intake during the day as it reduces hunger pangs. The recommended daily intake of fiber is roughly 25 grams to 30 grams per day. The consumption of a one ounce serving of almonds contains three grams of fiber which can help meet the daily value.
A team led by researchers at Purdue University examined the effects almond snacking had on the weight and appetite of 137 adult participants who were at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. The randomized, controlled clinical study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
These participants were divided into five groups: a control group that avoided all nuts and seeds, a breakfast meal group and lunch meal group that ate 1.5 ounces of almonds each with their daily breakfast or lunch, and a morning snack group and afternoon snack group that each consumed 1.5 ounces of almonds between their three meals. The morning and afternoon snack groups consumed the dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds within approximately two hours after their last meal and two hours before their next.
The researchers asked the volunteers to follow their usual eating patterns and physical activity — the only changes being the added almonds. Almond consumption was monitored by the researchers through the participants’ self-reported dietary intake recordings and their fasting vitamin E plasma levels.
Despite snacking on 250 calories worth of almonds a day, the participants did not increase the total number of calories they ate and drank in one day. There was no reported weight gain during the course of the four-week study among all of the participants.
“This research suggests that almonds may be a good snack option, especially for those concerned about weight,” said Richard Mattes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and the study’s principal investigator, according to a press release from the Almond Board of California. Mattes and his team believe that consuming just 1.5 ounces of almonds a day can satisfy hunger, and provide vitamins and nutrients like vitamin E and monounsaturated fat intake, without the risk of weight gain.