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Almonds May Help in Weight Loss

Almond Diet Sheds More Pounds Than Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet

Good Diabetes News

Both groups had improvement in their type 2 diabetes with lower blood sugar and insulin levels. But those on the almond diet were able to lower their need for diabetes medication more so than the non-almond dieters.

"It seemed as though 96% of participants with type 2 diabetes were able to be well-controlled on less medication as compared to 50% of in the [non-almond] group," she says.

Study researcher Michelle Wien, DrPH, RD, CDE, a clinical dietitian and research fellow at City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif., calls this finding "exciting." "The almonds definitely had an impact on blood sugar."

She says that a side effect of some diabetes medication is increased hunger, "so the faster one can get off of medications during weight loss, the better because when you take away something creating hunger behind the scenes, it can lead to greater success in weight-loss effort."

"When patients would come to me and tell me they wanted crunchy food with texture, I used to suggest crunchy vegetables. So this study was almost a feasibility study in that I didn't know whether nuts would be satisfying and meet their needs [without sacrificing their waistline] -- they did," Wien says.

Do Almonds Have a Magic Ingredient?

The researchers speculate that the fat in almonds may not be completely absorbed and point to earlier research suggesting that the cell walls of almonds can act as a physical barrier to fat.

They also may make you feel fuller, longer.

"In order to be satisfied, there is a need to eat foods that contain fiber, protein, and fat, and nuts definitely qualify in that regard," says Wien.

"They may have an effect on satiety because if you snack on nuts, you will feel filler for a longer period of time and may help curb extra calories," says Felicia Busch, RD, a St. Paul, Minn.-based nutritionist who reviewed the new findings for WebMD.

Almonds Help Cut Cholesterol, Too

In a study last year, researchers found that a diet that included about one handful of almonds decreased LDL "bad" cholesterol by 4.4%. When the diet included two handfuls of almonds -- accounting for a little less than a quarter of the day's total calories -- LDL cholesterol dropped by 9.4%. When the diet was supplemented with a low-fat, whole-wheat muffin that had the same amount of calories, protein, and fat (saturated and polyunsaturated) as the almonds, there was no significant change in cholesterol.

This study, funded by the Almond Board of California, appeared in a recent issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Although nuts aren't exactly low in calories or fat, nuts contain high levels of unsaturated fats that are known to lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and reduce the risk of heart disease.

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