Almonds: A Satiety Ace Up Your Sleeve
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
Satiety sometimes seems to be a nebulous, inaccessible concept. The western diet is often characterized by extended eating and subsequent weight gain and obesity. How can a body satisfy hunger without overeating? There are many differing philosophies that contradict each other. More Fiber. More Protein. More Fat. There are elements of truth in each method but they are incomplete individually. The answer lies in your intestines.
Hunger satisfaction is really about timing. How long does it take your body to digest specific foods? Easily digested carbohydrates, such as processed foods, allow for quick energy but obviously don't provide lasting satiation. Nutritionally complex foods, such as whole, unprocessed foods, take longer to digest and, therefore, fill your digestive tract longer. This extends the satiation period.
Another aspect of lasting satiation is fat availability in food. The less accessible the nutrients in foods, the longer it takes the body to break down food and use those nutrients. Almonds are a wonderful example. The cell walls of almonds are particularly resistant to breaking down in the small intestine. This resistance causes the fats inside almonds to be released slowly. The slow release of fats into the small intestine could have greater satiating potential and a reduced appetite related to almond consumption.
The form of almonds also plays a role. Whole or chopped, raw or roasted almonds increased satiation because these forms caused the fats to be less available for digestion. Almond butter, although tasty, was broken down enough that the almond fats were easily digestible.
Figure: Usable energy compared to that calculated from nutrient composition using the Atwater general factors for whole natural almonds (purple), roasted almonds (green), chopped roasted almonds (blue) and roasted almond butter (red).
In conclusion, almonds are a great appetite satisfier when whole or chopped. However, when ground into butter, the fats in almonds are more digestible and easily accessed. Adding whole or chopped almonds to your diet adds valuable nutrients that require your body to work more to access, which means you feel full, quicker and longer.