It turns out not all snacks are bad, even if you’re worried about your weight.

In fact, grabbing a handful of almonds between meals could actually be great for your health.

A new study found that eating 1.5 oz. of dry-roasted, lightly salted almonds every day leads to reduced hunger, improved dietary vitamin E and monounsaturated ("good") fat intake without increasing body weight. The study is slated to be published in the October issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

"This research suggests that almonds may be a good snack option, especially for those concerned about weight," says Richard Mattes, PhD, MPH, RD, distinguished professor of nutrition science at Purdue University and the study's principal investigator. "In this study, participants compensated for the additional calories provided by the almonds so daily energy intake did not rise and reported reduced hunger levels and desire to eat at subsequent meals, particularly when almonds were consumed as a snack."  

Snacking has become nearly universal behavior in the United States, with an estimated 97 percent of Americans consuming at least one snack per day.

Moreover, snacking has gotten a bad reputation for increasing the risk for weight gain, but this broad generalization may mask different responses to select foods, the Almond Board of California says.

However, the newly published four-week randomized, controlled clinical study, led by researchers at Purdue University, showed otherwise.

It investigated the effects of almond snacking on weight and appetite, and included 137 adult participants at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Participants were divided into five groups:

  • A control group that avoided all nuts and seeds
  • A breakfast meal group that ate 1.5 oz. of almonds with their daily breakfast.
  • A lunch meal group that ate 1.5 oz. of almonds with their daily lunch
  • A morning snack group that ate 1.5 oz. of almonds between breakfast and lunch
  • An afternoon snack group that ate 1.5 oz. of almonds between lunch and dinner

The groups weren’t given any other dietary instruction other than to follow their usual eating patterns and physical activity. And, compliance for consuming almonds was monitored through self-reported dietary intake assessments and fasting vitamin E plasma levels.

Despite eating about 250 additional calories per day from the almonds, participants did not increase the total number of calories they ate over the course of the day or gain weight during the course of the four-week study.

The new study suggests snacking can be a weight-wise strategy, but it depends on which foods you eat.

The combined positive effects of daily almond consumption seen in participants on hunger, appetite control, and vitamin E and monounsaturated fat intake without any impact on body weight suggests almonds, in particular, are a smart snack choice that can help support a healthy weight.