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Almonds May Improve People’s Nutrition

Almonds are the most popular nut consumed as a snack in America, and previous studies have suggested that eating almonds may contribute to better heart health. Now a new study suggests that eating almonds may also help improve people’s nutrition intake.

Participants in the study included 28 parent-child pairs living in North Central Florida. The parents were instructed to eat 1.5 ounces of whole almonds and the children were encouraged to eat half an ounce of whole almonds or the equivalent of almond butter daily for three weeks. The researchers only analyzed the habits of one parent and one child per family, but they did encourage the whole family to participate by providing enough almonds and almond butter for everyone.

The Healthy Eating Index is a diet quality measure that determines how well people are complying with the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Scores lower than 51 are considered a poor diet; between 51 and 80 indicates a need for improvement; and higher than 80 indicates a good diet. At the onset of the 14-week study, the participants had an average Healthy Eating Index score of 53.7 +/- 1.8 for the parents and 52.7 +/- 2.6 for the children.

Following the three weeks of almond consumption, the average Healthy Eating Index scores for parents rose to 61.4 +/- 1.4 and for children to 61.4 +/- 2.2. The researchers noted increases for total protein foods and decreases for empty calories. They theorized that the participants were replacing salty and processed snacks with almonds.

Researchers from the University of Florida conducted the study. It was published in the December 2015 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Research.

Previous studies have found that almonds may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. They’re also a great source of magnesium, manganese, and protein.

Almonds can easily be added to your daily diet as a mid-day snack, in breakfast cereal, or even sprinkled over a small serving of ice cream for dessert. Consider substituting a less healthy snack such as potato chips or cookies for a handful of almonds.

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