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Moderate amount of almonds each day may boost healthy eating

Posted:  Monday, December 14, 2015

“Go Almonds” is all set to become the new healthy eating mantra! Almonds are storehouses of nutrients and an ideal snack option. However, can popping these nuts affect overall diet quality as well? A new study has suggested that moderate daily intake of almonds may cause a shift to healthier eating patterns.

The study spanning 14 weeks was conducted by researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and published in the journal Nutrition Research. The researchers enrolled 29 pairs of parents and children for the study and used an online dietary recall method to document the type and amount of food consumed by each subject. These details were recorded to assess diet quality.

Most of the adults were mothers aged about 35 years, and the children were mostly 3 to 6 year olds. The adults were asked to eat 1.5 ounces of almonds per day and the children were given 0.5 ounces of almond butter daily. The almond intake was continued for a few weeks, after which the study subjects reverted to their typical intake, which included other snack foods.

The researchers used a tool called Health Eating Index (HEI) to measure diet quality and adherence to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. HEI is based on the adequate or moderate consumption of 12 dietary components. Each component is scored between 0 and 10 and the maximum obtainable score is 100. A higher HEI score indicates higher diet quality.

Interestingly, the researchers found that while the adults and children consumed almonds, the HEI score increased from 53.7 to 61.4. “When parents and children were eating almonds, their HEI increased for total protein foods, seafood, plant proteins and fatty acids. While they ate fewer empty calories, parents also decreased sodium intake. Parents and children consumed more vitamin E and magnesium when eating almonds”, said the researchers.

Almonds are a good source of plant protein, essential fatty acids, vitamin E and magnesium. It thus appears that in addition to bringing about a shift to healthier patterns, almonds also provide the body with many essential nutrients. People looking forward to improving their diet habits can consider adding these tasty and healthy nuts to their everyday diet.

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