Modesto, CA (Aug. 22, 2011) – With more than two-thirds of Americans now considered overweight or obese, and rates that continue to climb, more and more attention is being given to the American diet, its impact on weight1, and the resulting impact on health. In fact, findings from a recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that particular dietary and lifestyle factors are independently associated with long-term weight gain or weight maintenance.2 A recently published study bolsters growing evidence that supports including almonds in the diet for weight management. This research adds a new dimension to the existing research because it highlights the importance of long-term consumption of almonds for weight management. In a study published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, Jaceldo-Siegl and colleagues found that long-term almond consumption was associated with maintenance of healthy weight, or BMI < 25 kg/m2,3. This study highlights that long-term intake of nuts, specifically almonds, can support weight maintenance. Researchers specifically studied the impact of almond consumption on cholesterol levels for 81 men and women for 24 weeks2 (see study summary for cholesterol results); however, an unexpected finding was that when free-living individuals added almonds to their diets (without being asked to compensate calorically by cutting other foods), they did not gain weight.
In this study, all participants followed their habitual (usual) diet for six months, after which they followed their habitual diet supplemented with almonds for six months. For the almond supplement intervention, participants were provided with their choice of dry roasted or raw almonds in the amount of 15% of their mean habitual energy intake. Participants were free-living and compliance with the almond supplement was 90% according to reported intake. On average, daily almond supplementation was 52 g (or nearly 2 ounces).
“It is important for Americans to look at their whole diet over time in relation to weight management, not just one meal,” said Karen Lapsley, Chief Science Officer for the Almond Board of California. Lapsley continues, “The healthy choices made at each occasion, on each day impact a person’s weight over time. For this reason, it is important that more long-term research be conducted to examine what those choices should be.”
Study at a Glance:
K. Jaceldo-Siegl, J. Sabate´,M. Batech, G.E. Fraser. Influence of body mass index and serum lipids on the cholesterol-lowering effects of almonds in free-living individuals. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases Volume 21, Supplement 1 , Pages S7-S13, June
- The People: of 81 participants (43 men and 38 women) completed the study with an average age of 49.4 years.2
- The Diet: All participants followed their habitual (usual) diet for six months, after which they followed their habitual diet supplemented with almonds for 6 months. For the almond supplement intervention, participants were provided with their choice of dry roasted or raw almonds in the amount of 15% of their mean habitual energy intake. Participants were free-living and compliance with the almond supplement was 90% according to reported intake. On average, daily almond supplementation was 52 g (or nearly 2 ounces).2
- The Results: Although the intake of energy, total fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat increased and saturated fat intake decreased, there were no significant differences in body weight or BMI between the diet periods. When controlling for age, gender and body weight, there were significant reductions in TC:HDL and LDL:HDL ratios, but no significant changes in the total cholesterol (TC), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol or triglycerides (TG) when testing diet alone. The reductions in TC:HDL and LDL:HDL ratios were statistically significant in participants with BMI < 25 kg/m2, but not in heavier subjects. However, when looking at absolute change, LDL cholesterol, TC:HDL and LDL:HDL ratios decreased significantly in individuals with total cholesterol levels > 5.2 mmol/L (201 mg/dl) and LDL-cholesterol levels > 3.3 mmol/L (128 mg/dl).2
The limitations of this study relate primarily to the design of the study. Although the seasonal variations were controlled for, the training effect and secular trends in the economy and environment were not controlled for, which may have affected dietary behaviors and thus cholesterol levels. Additionally, because all of the participants began with the habitual diet and phased to the almond diet, there was a lack of randomization, which might have led to biased estimates on differences in cholesterol levels.
Good news about fat. U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that the majority of your fat intake be unsaturated. One serving of almonds (28g) has 13g of fat and only 1g of saturated fat. Almonds offer 3.5 grams of fiber, 13 grams of unsaturated fat and only 1 gram of saturated fat per one-ounce serving.4
Consumers all over the world enjoy California Almonds as a natural, wholesome and quality food product, making almonds California’s leading agricultural export in terms of value. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds through its research-based approach to all aspects of marketing, farming and production on behalf of the more than 6,000 California Almond growers and processors, many of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit www.AlmondBoard.com.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. U.S. Obesity Trends. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html.
2 2011Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, Willett WC, Hu FB. Changes in Diet and Lifestyle and Long-Term Weight Gain in Women and Men. N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2392-2404. Available at: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1014296 .
3 K. Jaceldo-Siegl, J. Sabate´,M. Batech, G.E. Fraser. Influence of body mass index and serum lipids on the cholesterol-lowering effects of almonds in free-living individuals. Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases Volume 21, Supplement 1 , Pages S7-S13, June
4 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2010. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. Nutrient Data Laboratory Page, http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl