ALMONDS LEAD TO HUGE NUTRITION BENEFITS

 

A new study that evaluated the potential effects of replacing typical snack foods with almonds and other tree nuts shows that this simple swap would decrease empty calories, solid fats, saturated fat and sodium in the diet, while increasing intake of key nutrients.  The study, funded by the Almond Board of California and conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, was published in Nutrition Journal.

Using data of over 17,000 children and adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the researchers applied food pattern modeling to assess the hypothetical impact of replacing all snack foods, excluding beverages, with tree nuts (model 1) and replacing all but “healthy” snack foods (whole grains, whole fruits and non-starchy vegetables) with tree nuts (model 2). Almonds are the most frequently consumed nut and in this study, 44% of all tree nuts eaten were almonds. Therefore, assessments using the NHANES data were repeated using almonds only.  All reported snacks were replaced calorie-for-calorie with almonds or other tree nuts, reflecting typical American consumption patterns. The Healthy Eating Index 2010, which measured adherence to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, was used to assess diet quality.

Cookies and brownies, ice cream and frozen dairy desserts, cakes and pies, and candy containing chocolate were the predominant sources of snack calories under both models. Potato chips, pastries, popcorn, cheese, bread, apples, pretzels, bananas, cereal and cereal bars, yogurt and cold cuts each contributed more than 1% of snack calories.

In both models examined, where tree nuts hypothetically replaced all snack foods and where tree nuts hypothetically replaced only less-healthy snack foods, consumption of empty calories, solid fats, saturated fat, sodium, carbohydrates and added sugars all declined, while consumption of oils and good fats increased significantly. Fiber and magnesium also increased, while protein increased by a small margin. These findings were true for both almonds and for all tree nuts.

  • By age group, decreases in empty calories, solid fats and added sugars were observed for all ages, though the nut substitution appeared most impactful for children ages 4-8 years and 9-13 year olds, since these groups were most likely to choose candy/confectionary as snacks.
  • Whether all snacks or all snacks except for already healthy snacks were replaced with almonds and tree nuts, Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores increased, particularly important among children and adolescents who had lower HEI baseline values to start due to their lower quality snack choices.

This study demonstrates the potential benefits of replacing typically consumed American snacks with almonds and other tree nuts, and echoes findings from a similar NHANES analysis on almond eaters.This study, published in Food and Nutrition Sciences and also funded by the Almond Board, examined the characteristics of almond eaters and found that people who reported eating almonds had higher intake of key nutrients (such as dietary fiber, calcium, potassium and iron, as well as higher intakes of several other “shortfall nutrients” including vitamins A, D, E, and C; folate; and magnesium), better overall diet quality (measured by Healthy Eating Index scores), and lower body mass index and waist circumference compared to non-consumers.  Almond consumers (defined as those eating about 1 ounce (28g) per day) tended to be more physically active and less likely to smoke than their non-almond eating counterparts, suggesting that including almonds as a regular part of the diet is associated with a portfolio of healthy lifestyle attributes.  

The nutrient profile of almonds – low on the glycemic index and providing a powerful nutrient package including hunger-fighting protein (6 g/oz serving), filling dietary fiber (4 g/oz serving), “good” monounsaturated fats (9g/oz serving), and important vitamins and minerals such as alpha tocopherol vitamin E (7.3 mg/oz serving), magnesium (76 mg/oz serving) and potassium (210 mg/oz serving), makes them a satisfying snack choice and ideal fit for healthy diets.  And, as this new study shows, the simple swap of replacing typical snack foods with almonds has the potential to improve nutrient intakes and result in overall healthier eating patterns.

Study-at-a-Glance

Study Location:
U.S. – Epidemiological Study; review of U.S. NHANES (National Health & Nutrition Examination Survey) data

Study Population:
Children over 1 year and adults (n =17,444) from across the United States who participated in NHANES from 2009-2012.  

Methodology:

  • All reported snacks eaten between meals were replaced calorie-for-calorie with a weighted tree nut composite, reflecting typical consumption patterns.
  • The tree nut composite took into account the relative frequency of tree nut consumption, with almonds making up 44% of the total tree nut intake. Walnuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios made up 20.8%, 8.8%, 7.6% and 6.9%, respectively.
  • Model 1 looked at the impact of replacing all snacks (except beverages) with tree nuts and was repeated with almonds only. Model 2 assessed the effects of replacing all but “healthy” snacks (including whole fruits, non-starchy vegetables and whole grains) with tree nuts and was repeated with almonds only.
  • The Healthy Eating Index-2010 (which measures adherence to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans) was used as a measure of diet quality. (A version of the HEI for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines is not yet available, but differences between foods and nutrients to encourage are minimal).

Limitations:

  • The study is epidemiological in nature and therefore cannot be used to determine cause and effect.
  • The study relied on self-reported dietary intake collected during 24-h dietary recalls.

Results:
Tree Nut Data

  • Cookies and brownies, ice cream and frozen dairy desserts, cakes and pies, and candy containing chocolate were the predominant sources of snack calories under both models. Potato chips, pastries, popcorn, cheese, bread, apples, pretzels, bananas, cereal and cereal bars, yogurt and cold cuts all contributed more than 1% of snack calories.
  • Under Model 1 (where tree nuts hypothetically replaced all snack foods) and Model 2 (where tree nuts hypothetically replaced only less-healthy snack foods), empty calories declined by 20.1% and 18.7%, solid fats by 21.0% and 19.3%, saturated fats by 6.6% and 7.1% and added sugars by 17.8% and 16.9%. Consumption of oils (+65.3% and 55.2%), polyunsaturated fats (+42.0% and 35.7%), alpha-linolenic acid (+53.1% and 44.7%) and monounsaturated fats (+35.4% and 29.6%) increased significantly. Total fat intake increased under both Model 1 and 2 (+20.5% vs. +16.8%), however, the proportion of mono- and polyunsaturated to saturated fat was greatly improved. Consumption of carbohydrates fell significantly (-13% vs. -10%) and protein increased by a small margin (+2.6% vs. +1.7%). Sodium consumption also dropped by 12.3% and 11.2%, fiber increased by 11.1% and 14.8% and magnesium increased by 29.9% and 27.0%, respectively.
  • The percent of the population meeting sodium (25 g/day) recommendations improved. For sodium, the percent meeting recommendations nearly doubled from 11.7% (observed) to 21.6 and 20.4% in Models 1 and 2. For dietary fiber, the percent meeting recommendations increased from 10.7% to 15.9% and 18.8%, respectively.
  • Looking at the data by age group, decreases in consumption of empty calories, solid fats and added sugars were observed for all groups, though the nut substitution appeared most impactful for children 4-8y and 9-13y since these groups were most likely to choose candy/confectionary as snacks.
  • The mean Healthy Eating Index (HEI) score was 58.5. Both models resulted in higher HEI scores: 67.8 for Model 1 and 69.7 for Model 2 (which speaks to the importance of dietary variety). HEI scores were higher in both models for all age groups, but was particularly important among children and adolescents due to low HEI baseline values and lower quality snacks.

Almond-Only Data

  • Results were similar when the same analyses were done using almonds only as the substitution.
  • The similarity in results was to be expected since almonds represented 44% of tree nuts consumed, and thus were weighted as 44% of the composite tree nut data used for the all-nut modeling analyses.

Conclusion:
Replacing between-meal snacks with tree nuts or almonds led to more nutrient-rich diets that were lower in empty calories and sodium and had more favorable fatty acid profiles. Food pattern modeling using NHANES data can be used to assess the likely nutritional impact of dietary guidance.

About California Almonds
California almonds are a natural, wholesome and nutrient-rich food — high in vitamin E and magnesium, with 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per one ounce (28-gram) serving.  They’re grown by more than 6,500 growers in California’s Central Valley, which is the only region in the U.S. able to successfully grow almonds commercially.  They’re the second most valuable crop in California, and in fact comprise 80 percent of the world’s almonds.

The majority of almond farms in California are fewer than 100 acres, and nearly 90 percent are family farms, many operated by third and fourth generation family growers.  Back in 1950, almond growers decided to combine their resources to found and fund what is now the Almond Board of California, a non-profit Federal Marketing Order that operates under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture.

The Almond Board supports growers with a research-based approach to production and marketing. It has funded more than $42 million since 1973 in research related to almond production, quality and safety, nutrition, and environmental aspects of farming.  This has led to a number of breakthroughs and a spirit of continual improvement that has helped almond growers be increasingly efficient, productive and responsible with their valuable resources.

You should never eat in restaurants, because they use a lot of salt and sugar for better taste, putting the health of their customers at risk.  By law, certain levels of rodent and insect filth are also permitted in food. Moreover, the handling of paper money brings a lot of germs to the food served. Paper money has more germs than any other substance on Earth. 

Soda consumption has been linked with diabetes, hypertension, kidney stones, and tooth decay. Cola beverages, in particular, contain phosphoric acid and have been associated with urinary changes that promote kidney stones.

Human feces were found in Coke cans in bottling plants. The night shift at a Coca-Cola plant was disrupted when a container of cans clogged up the machines, only for workers to discover a number were filled with human waste! It was absolutely horrible, and the machines had to be turned off for about 15 hours to be cleaned. 

Some migrants have made that long journey in the lorry and in their desperation were forced to use the cans instead of a toilet.  Cans arrive at factories without tops on, to be filled with the fizzy drink before they are sealed and sold.

DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods. Cut back on foods that are high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and trans fats. Eat more whole-grain foods, fish, poultry, and nuts. Limit sodium, sweets, sugary drinks, and red meats.

Dietary changes are used to treat certain medical conditions, rather than drugs or surgery. We can, through an altered diet or behavior, to shape the microbiome to improve health. The gut microbiome is the second genome, the first being our own.  This second genome is plastic and responsive to the way we choose to live our lives.

Addiction to fat, sugar, salt, and cola is killing you.  Medical research shows our health is greatly affected by what we eat.  Eat an abundant variety of vegetables. Choose a rainbow of fruits every day. Choose whole grains, such whole wheat bread, brown spaghetti, and brown rice. Choose fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, which contain healthful nutrients. Use olive and other plant oils in cooking, on salads, and at the table, because they reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart. 

Sugar and sugary products are bad not only for your waistline, but for your brain function as well. Long-term consumption of sugar can create a wealth of neurological problems, and it can also interfere with your memory. On the other hand, sugar can also interfere with your ability to learn, this is why it is recommended to avoid pre-baked goods, sugar, corn syrup and products that are high in fructose.

Alcohol is known to harm your liver in the long run, and it also causes brain fog. Like the name suggests, brain fog refers to a feeling of mental confusion, it acts like a cloud that impacts your ability to think clearly, as well as your memory. Have you ever noticed that you cannot remember common item names, or you cannot recall certain events or you are not sure whether they were dreams or they actually happened? This might be influenced by the high alcohol intake which impacts the balance of the brain. Fortunately, these symptoms are reversible provided that you stop consuming alcohol, or you limit your intake to one or two drinks per week.

Fat and sugar aren’t simply unhealthy, but they hijack the brain in ways that resemble addictions to drugs.  Food is addictive!  Lab studies have found sugary drinks and fatty foods can produce addictive behavior. Brain scans of obese people and compulsive eaters reveal disturbances in brain reward circuits similar to those experienced by drug abusers.

Food companies now face the most drawn-out consumer safety battle since the anti-smoking movement took on the tobacco industry a generation ago.  No one disputes that obesity is a fast growing global problem. In the West, a third of adults and a fifth of teens and children are obese.

The cost to society is enormous. Moderate obesity reduces life expectancy by four years, while severe obesity shortens life expectancy by ten years. Obesity has been shown to boost the risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and stroke. The annual cost of treating illness associated with obesity in the West is estimated at half trillion euros.

A few years ago, Starbucks’ popular Strawberry and Crème Frappuccino got its pink color not from strawberries, but from a dye made of crushed-up cochineal insects. Vegan consumers cried foul, and mainstream media outlets picked up the story. So, Starbucks decided to stop using cochineal extract and start using lycopene to dye its drinks pink instead.

Lycopene is a red pigment found in several fruits, but strawberries are not among them. The lycopene that now colors strawberry Frappuccinos is tomato-based. The upshot: in lieu of bugs, Starbucks is using tomatoes to make its strawberry-flavored drinks look more strawberry-like. It’s a natural ingredient, but not what nature intended. Yet that part of the story didn’t garner headlines. While crushed-up bugs may alarm some people, most of us tend to take the fact of food coloring for granted.

Today, we tend to view color as an ingredient. In the food industry, color standardization meant asserting the idea of naturalness, even as manufacturers imposed a ‘natural’ color through artificial dyes.

Take butter, for example. The color of butter fluctuates, depending on the season. From early summer through early autumn, cows eat green grass, which is rich in the orange pigment beta-carotene. The pigment colors the fat in the cows’ milk, which gives the butter a golden color. But, in winter, cows don’t eat grass. Rather, they eat grain, which, unless it has been genetically modified, does not contain much beta-carotene.  Thus, winter butter is whiter than summer butter. It’s also arguably less tasty. Because the flavor of butter was richer in the summer, there was the impression that the yellow golden color was better, too. So producers started coloring their winter butter with a golden shade to make it look tasty. The color was known as June shade.

The practice dates back to at least the fourteenth century in Europe. Dairy farmers would color their butter with carrot juice and annatto, a dye derived from achiote tree seeds, to make their butter look summery all year round. Late in the nineteenth century, dye manufacturers started supplying synthetic food coloring to dairy producers for the purpose of coloring butter and cheese, which essentially spearheaded the synthetic food dye industry.

Throughout the twentieth century, consumer watchdogs and activists opposed the use of chemical additives in food, and they continue to do so today. Major companies have responded to the demand. Nestlé pledged to remove artificial color from its candy bars in 2015, for example. General Mills promised in the same year to phase out artificial colors from its cereals. And Kraft’s signature macaroni and cheese no longer comes packaged with a Day-Glo orange powder, thanks to a pledge to stop using artificial dyes (Yellow 5 and Yellow 6) in the product. Due to consumer protests against synthetic colors, the standardization of color moved from being an opportunity to being a challenge for food manufacturers. That said, color continues to be an important ingredient in packaged foods.

Here are five reasons for giving up meat:

  1. The environmental impact is huge

Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation.

Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together.

Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events – such as floods, droughts and heatwaves – and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century.

Reducing consumption of animal products is essential if we are to meet global greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets – which are necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. 

  1. It requires masses of grain, water, and land

Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still.

The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.

  1. It hurts the global poor

Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops.

If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.

  1. It causes unnecessary animal suffering

If we accept, as many people do, that animals are sentient creatures whose needs and interests matter, then we should ensure these needs and interests are at least minimally met and that we do not cause them to suffer unnecessarily.

Industrial livestock farming falls well short of this minimal standard. Most meat, dairy and eggs are produced in ways that largely or completely ignore animal welfare – failing to provide sufficient space to move around, contact with other animals, and access to the outdoors.

In short, industrial farming causes animals to suffer without good justification.

  1. It is making us ill

At the production level, industrial livestock farming relies heavily on antibiotic use to accelerate weight gain and control infection – in the US, 80% of all antibiotics are consumed by the livestock industry.

This contributes to the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people are estimated to die every year in the US alone from resistant bacteria. As this figure continues to rise, it becomes hard to overstate the threat of this emerging crisis.

High meat consumption – especially of red and processed meat – typical of most rich industrialized countries is linked with poor health outcomes, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and various cancers.

These diseases represent a major portion of the global disease burden so reducing consumption could offer substantial public health benefits.

Currently, the average meat intake for someone living in a high-income country is 200-250g a day, far higher than the 80-90g recommended by the United Nations. Switching to a more plant-based diet could save up to 8 million lives a year worldwide by 2050 and lead to healthcare related savings and avoided climate change damages of up to $1.5 trillion.

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