Eating 40 grams worth almonds daily can improve the quality of diet and improve the health index of people, said a study by researchers at the University of Florida, US.
In all 28 parent-child pairs living in North Central Florida were observed. Parents were asked to eat 40g almonds daily for three-weeks and kids were given half an ounce of almonds daily. At the beginning of the study, parents’ average Healthy Eating Index score was 53.7 ± 1.8 and children’s score was 53.7 ± 2.6.
nder the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a score below 51 indicates poor diet and a score greater than 80 indicates a good diet. Once the participants began to consume more almonds, parents’ average diet score increased to 61.4 ± 1.4 and children’s score was 61.4 ± 2.2.
The researchers had asked the parents to replace salty and processed snacks with almonds, said Alyssa Burns, a doctoral student in the UF/IFAS food science and human nutrition department who conducted the study.
Over the past 20 years, per-capita consumption of nuts and seeds has decreased in children 3 to 6 years old, while the consumption of savory snacks—like chips and pretzels—increased. Researchers were interested in studying the addition of almonds into 3- to 6-year-old children’s diets, because encouraging healthy eating habits during early childhood can have numerous lifelong benefits.
“The habits you have when you are younger are carried into adulthood, so if a parent is able to incorporate almonds or different healthy snacks into a child’s diet, it’s more likely that the child will choose those snacks later on in life,” Burns said.
They were also interested in learning how easy or difficult it is to incorporate almonds into the diets of preschool-aged children—an age when food preferences are developed and some of the challenges were that the kids were getting bored with the almonds, or they didn’t like the taste of the almonds or the almond butter, said Burns.
To counter that, she said they came up with creative ways for the parents to incorporate the almonds into their children’s diets—for instance, adding them to familiar foods like oatmeal, smoothies or sandwiches. The study’s results suggest whole food approaches, like adding almonds to one’s diet, may be an achievable way to improve overall public health. “Adding a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts to your diet can improve your overall diet quality,” Burns said.
The study was published in the Journal of Nutrition Research.