Almonds and Diet Quality

Mar. 8, 2016

A recent study of the benefits of including almonds in the diet, conducted by University of Florida researchers, inspired media coverage around the world for California Almonds at the end of 2015. The findings, published in Nutrition Research, found that adding a moderate amount of almonds or almond butter to the daily diets of parents and children (1.5 ounces per day for parents and 0.5 ounce per day for children) significantly improved overall diet quality (P < 0.001) and modulated intestinal microbiota composition in study participants.

The health benefits of almonds have been well established and reflected in science-based dietary guidance to consume nuts regularly as part of a healthy eating pattern, but this is the first study of its kind to investigate the effects of dietary change on digestive health and immune function in parent-child pairs.

When parents and children ate almonds, their overall diet quality improved, as measured by increased Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores, a standard measure of adherence to recommended dietary guidance. While at the beginning of the study HEI scores for parents and children were actually below U.S. national averages, almond consumption increased their scores to 61.4, well above national averages of 57.4 for adults 31–50 years old and 54.9 for children 4–8 years of age (P < 0.001).

Media outreach in North America included a news release that garnered coverage in several national consumer and trade media publications as well as popular parenting blogs. These include:

Orlando Sentinel, UF study: Almonds can enrich diets of adults and their young children

Consumer Affairs, Health researchers say almonds deserve more respect, Almonds show prebiotic promise for the whole family

Food Technology, Almonds may improve diet quality, gut microbiota composition

EverydayFamily, Why you should use almond butter in your child’s PB&J

The Active Times, Just 20 almonds per day are enough to improve digestive health

“The findings suggest that participants replaced some of their empty calorie snacks with almonds, which has important implications since snacking has become so prevalent,” said Wendy Dahl, Ph.D., RD, associate professor at the University of Florida and contributing author to the study.

The Almond Board outreach also emphasized the ease and simplicity almonds offer as a solution to improving family health. “Our study participants generally liked almonds a lot, and were happy to eat them, so making this dietary change wasn’t a tough sell,” said Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, Ph.D., RD, professor at University of Florida and principal investigator of the study.

“Recommending almonds as a snack may be a simple strategy to establish healthy eating patterns in children and an achievable way to help improve public health.”

See the Almond Board newsroom at to learn more about this study and its results.

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