Substituting almonds for less healthy foods could help dieters stick to a calorie-controlled diet, and lower their cholesterol at the same time, says a new study.
“Nuts, and in this case almonds, shouldn’t be on the ‘do not eat’ list, they can be effectively incorporated in a weight loss plan, with the caveat that they have to be portion controlled,” said Dr. Gary Foster, who led the study at Temple University in Philadelphia.
The new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and supported by the Almond Board of California, involved 123 generally healthy but obese people who followed a calorie-controlled diet for 18 months. Women ate 1,200-1,500 calories per day, while men ate 1,500-1,800.
Half the people, assigned at random by researchers, were given two 28-gram packages of almonds (about 24 almonds per package) to eat each day. That works out to about 350 calories’ worth. The other half agreed to avoid nuts altogether.
When researchers checked in with dieters after six months, they found that the nut-free dieters had lost slightly more weight than the almond eaters: 16 pounds compared to 12 pounds, on average. A year later, both groups had gained some of their weight back, and there was no longer a clear difference in total weight loss between participants who did and didn’t eat almonds.
Past research also suggests that nuts like almonds might play a role in reducing risk factors for heart disease, so Foster and his team expected to see some improvement in cholesterol and levels of blood fats known as triglycerides among the almond-eating dieters.
Six months into the study, cholesterol in the almond group had fallen 8.7 milligrams (mg) per deciliter (dL), on average, compared to 0.1 mg/dL in the nut-free group…
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