Snacking on almonds as part of a normal diet could improve individuals' daily intake of several important nutrients, according to new research.

For one year, researchers from the Loma Linda University in California followed 81 men and women, ranging in age from 25 to 70 years old, to evaluate the long-term impact of a diet supplemented with almonds. During the first six months, patients in the study followed their standard diet.  For the next six months, they added an average of 52 grams of almonds per day (approximately two one-ounce handfuls) to their diet. 

After incorporating almonds into their diets, subjects demonstrated a significant increase in their intake of several nutrients, including monounsaturated fats (42%), polyunsaturated fats (24%), dietary fibre (12%), vegetable protein (19%), alpha-tocopherol vitamin E (66%), magnesium (23%), and copper (15%). Researchers also found a decrease in subjects' intake of trans fats (14%), sodium (21%), cholesterol (17%) and sugars (13%).

"The changes we saw in nutrient intake are consistent with the dietary recommendations experts make to reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases, including recommendations recently set by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee," said the study's lead researcher Karen Jaceldo-Siegl.