Snacks often feel like a guilty pleasure. But if you pick the right ones, they don’t have to derail your healthy eating goals.

“There can actually be some benefit to well-chosen snacks when trying to lose or maintain weight because they help us stay satiated and less likely to reach for something unhealthy in between meals,” said Joseph St. Pierre, DO, a medical weight loss specialist at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.

So snacks can be a great addition to any balanced diet – now how do you choose the right one?

It turns out, there may be some science behind snack selection. And a new study has identified one common snack that could supplement your weight loss goals.

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Nutty results

The research, out of Australia, shows that snacking on almonds improved the body’s supply of appetite-regulating hormones when compared with high-carbohydrate snacks.

Packed with protein and healthy fats, almonds raises levels of glucagon – a chemical that triggers the feeling of being full after eating – by 39%. Another chemical that slows digestion (and in turn, food consumption) went up by 45%. And a third chemical that regulates weight and food intake increased by 18%.

“Almonds are an excellent source of good nutrition in general, and one of the snacks I always recommend to anyone wanting to lose weight,” Dr. St. Pierre says.

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There’s more

The benefits of almonds don’t stop at appetite regulation.

The study also found a potential link between almonds and higher insulin sensitivity, which is associated with a lower risk of diabetes and heart disease.

Reach for these

Almonds may not be the only nut with health benefits, according to Dr. St. Pierre.

“Previous research found similar reactions in the body after eating walnuts and pistachios,” he says.

Other snack suggestions for weight loss include: