If almonds are your favorite snack but you’re conscious of eating too many for calories’ sake, a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition may provide some relief. Scientists now believe almonds contain fewer calories than we originally thought.
As reported by NPR, the study was conducted by USDA food scientists who found that almonds contain fewer calories than were previously calculated.
Findings determined that there was close to a 30 percent margin of error when it came to the calories in this popular nut. USDA researcher David Baer said he and his team were just as surprised as anyone about the findings.
To conduct the study, researchers split 18 healthy participants into three groups and tracked their diets for 18 days. One group was put on a controlled diet that included 84 grams of almonds per day, another was prescribed 42 grams of almonds per day, and another was instructed to eat a diet completely free of nuts.
Throughout the study, researchers compared urine and waste samples of the three groups to gauge macronutrient intake, and found that “when people are consuming nuts, the amount of fat in the feces goes up,” said Baer. “And that suggests that we’re not absorbing all of the fat or calories that’s in the nut.”
The findings show that our body is not absorbing all of the energy found in almonds, thus, fewer calories are being consumed.
These results shouldn’t alter your view of almonds too much as they’re still a healthy snack and an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. However, it also shouldn’t be a license to eat as many almonds as you want just because they have fewer calories. For instance, if your typical single serving of almonds is about 23 nuts, you can add in a few more (about 7) and have around the same calories as you did before.
Whether you eat almonds for a snack or drink almond milk with your morning cereal, doing so will provide your body with numerous health benefits. And thanks to this new study, it won’t hurt to chew on a few more. Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll reap by upping your almond intake.
Health Benefits of Almonds
- Almonds are good for the mind because they contain nutrients that promote healthy brain development and function.
- Almonds help regulate cholesterol because they have high levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL), which reduces the level of low density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad cholesterol.”
- Almonds contain high amounts of vitamin E, mono-unsaturated fats, protein, potassium, and magnesium, all of which are good for the heart.
- The potassium in almonds helps regulate blood pressure.
- Almonds are high in fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion and bowel function.
- Eating almonds after meals helps combat diabetes because it reduces the rise in sugar and insulin levels.
This surprising study comes after a recent British study that found pistachios contain 5 percent fewer calories than we previously thought. The amount of calories in foods are typically determined by the Atwater factor – a system used to calculate the available energy of foods. Scientists now believe this scale isn’t necessarily accurate for all foods, which explains the almond miscalculation.
This means good and bad news. Perhaps some of your other favorite foods contain more or less calories than you think. I just hope the next food they evaluate is ice cream, because maybe their calorie assessment of this summertime favorite is way overboard, too. In the meantime, I’ll have my fingers crossed and keep my vanilla soft serve portions to a reasonable minimum.
August 7th, 2012