Owing to the numerous positive effects exerted on health, moderate nut consumption is recommended by nutritionists. However, the role played by nuts in the treatment of excess weight has not yet been definitively explained in scientific terms. Because of their high energy density, nuts are sometimes still regarded with scepticism in the context of a diet. Isolated epidemiological studies have shown a negative correlation between nut consumption and body weight. Thus far, only three randomised studies have been able to prove that regular nut consumption contributes positively to a weight loss programme.
The objective of this study conducted by Foster et al. was to investigate – within the parameters of an 18-month weight management programme – the effect of a hypocaloric diet that is rich in almonds (58 g per day) in comparison with a nutrition plan which, while also hypocaloric, does not incorporate nut consumption.
The study population comprised 123 obese participants who had an average age of 47 years and a BMI (in kg/m2) of 34.0. Anthropometric and metabolic measurements were carried out at study commencement and then again at 6 months and 18 months.
The findings of the study demonstrated that the group which consumed almonds for the duration of the diet lost a significant amount of weight in as little as 6 months. However, even greater reduction in weight was observed in the subjects who consumed no almonds. But almond consumption during the diet phase exerted a positive effect on cholesterol values, this effect remaining unobserved in the other group. After the 18-month weight management programme, no differences in terms of weight loss were observed between the two groups.
Thus, in summary, it can be asserted that both groups had lost a significant amount of weight after 18 months. In spite of the decreased weight reduction after 6 months, which was observed in the group that consumed almonds, a much more significant improvement in the blood lipid profile was observed in this group. Thus, almond consumption during a hypocaloric diet assists in reducing cardiovascular disease.
Foster GD, Shantz KL, Vander Veur SS, Oliver TL, Lent MR, Virus A, Szapary PO, Rader DJ, Zemel BS, Gilden-Tsai A (2012): A randomized trial of the effects of an almond-enriched, hypocaloric diet in the treatment of obesity. Am J Clin Nutr, 96: S. 249-254.