If you're on a diet, you may be tempted to steer clear of almonds because they're so high in calories. It's true that one guaranteed way to achieve weight loss is to reduce calories, but don't give up those almonds so fast -- their nutritional profile and powerful properties of satiation may be just what you need to lose weight safely.
A typical 1-ounce serving of almonds is equivalent to about 22 whole nuts. According to the USDA's nutritional database, that amount of dry, roasted, unsalted almonds has 170 calories, 6 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber and no sodium. The same amount of almonds roasted in oil and salted has a nearly equal amount of calories, protein, carbs and fiber but a total of 15.5 grams of fat and 150 milligrams of sodium. One 2-tablespoon serving of almond butter with no added salt has 190 calories, 8 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber and no sodium.
That Full Feeling
One main benefit of almonds is their potential to promote a feeling of satisfying fullness. Feeling satiated may spur people to consume fewer calories at a meal or fewer calories in general throughout the day. In addition to being a rich source of protein, which is the most satiating nutrient, almonds contain a distinctive combination of fatty acids and dietary fiber, which tends to satisfy hunger cravings. In one study published in 2003 in the "International Journal of Obesity," subjects who supplemented a low-calorie diet with almonds over a 24-week period lost 62 percent more weight than subjects who supplemented with complex carbohydrate foods.
Almonds may offer other benefits for weight loss that aren't as direct. For example, snacking on them every day is proven to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. According to the Obesity Action Coalition, obese and overweight individuals are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure because of the extra fatty tissue in their bodies, which forces the heart to work harder in pumping blood throughout the body. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, may increase your risk of heart attack, stroke, dementia, kidney failure, aneurysm and other serious health conditions .
Know Your Limits
As with any other healthy food, it's possible to go overboard on almonds. Because they are relatively calorie-dense, eating too many of them can contribute to weight gain rather than weight loss. When you're making an effort to watch what you eat, it's worth measuring out a single serving of almonds and using them as a snack or part of a meal. Before you make any major changes to your diet, get approval from your doctor.
- United States Department of Agriculture: National Nutrient Database
- LIVESTRONG.com MyPlate: Almond Butter Trader Joe's
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Protein, Weight Management and Satiety
- Life Extension Magazine: Almonds
- International Journal of Obesity: Almonds vs Complex Carbohydrates in a Weight Reducation Program
- Obesity Action Coalition: Hypertension and Obesity