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Nuts and seeds are often lacking from a typical Western diet, yet these nutrition powerhouses are just about as easy as you can possibly get for a speedy snack. Now a new study, published in Nutrition Research has found that almonds in particular are the nuts you should be reaching for if you want to really boost your health. 

In the recent study, researchers recruited 29 healthy parent and child pairs for a 14 week randomized, controlled, crossover study. Parents and children consumed 1.5 and 0.5 ounces of almonds and/or almond butter every day for 3 weeks, as part of their normal diet, followed by 6 weeks washout period and a further 3 weeks of their normal diet without almonds.

Results showed that almond consumption changed levels of gut bacteria in participants. In addition, the researchers found that study participants replaced their usual empty calorie snacks with almonds, which had a positive impact on total daily intake of nutrients. When eating almonds, participants consumed more vitamin E and magnesium overall – two key nutrients often lacking in Western diets. 

The results of this study are in line with a 2010 study carried out by the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, which also found positive effects on the gut microbiome. The researchers commented;

“These results indicated the stimulation effects of almond skin and almond intake were typical prebiotic effects. Any food or ingredients that reach the colon without being digested are prebiotic candidiates. Almond skins contain approximately 50% dietary fibre and almonds contain about 12% dietary fibre. Dietary fibre is resistant to digestive enzymes and passes undigested to the large intestine where it interacts with the intestinal mucosa and microbiota to enhance gut health.”

Eat almonds raw as an easy snack, ground in homemade granola bars or as butter on wholegrain crackers. A nutritious addition to any diet.  

Burnsa AM, Zitta MA.  Diet quality improves for parents and children when almonds are incorporated into their daily diet: a randomized, crossover study.  Nutrition Research.  Vol 36, Iss 1, January 2016, pp. 80-89, doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.11.004

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