Great news folks! Recent advances in calorie measurements have shown that the actual calories in almonds may be lower than what we think. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [Download PDF], concludes that instead of 165 calories per serving, almonds may only “cost you” 130 calories.
In the picture above you can see that this means you can enjoy more almonds for the same calorie budget. Read about the scientific discovery that may have a profound impact on our calorie counting.
What you need to know:
The current method of determining a food’s calorie count was developed over 100 years ago by a scientist named Wilbur Atwater. The calories in a food are determined by the sum of calories from its 3 macronutrients: fat, carbohydrates and protein. Each gram of fat is 9 calories, and each gram of protein or carb is 4 calories. (You can easily check the math on any product with a nutrition label).
Atwater’s method is used for all food types, regardless of their composition and ratios of the 3 macronutrients. But there is something in nuts, and almonds in particular, that behaves differently, according to USDA scientists who conducted the study.
A USDA serving of almonds is 1 ounce. That’s about 23 almonds. And it costs you 165 calories, 130 of which come from fat! It’s good, healthy unsaturated fat, but nonetheless calorie rich. The researchers have hypothesized that something in the fiber structure of the almond causes less of the fat to be absorbed by the digestive tract. Fiber is not digested by our stomach or intestines, and if some fat gets “trapped” in it, then the fat won’t be digested either.
The 23 almonds, according to the new measurement, contain only 130 calories.
If the theory holds, other nuts, and perhaps additional food products, may contain less calories than current USDA data tells us. That could lead to an overhaul of hundreds of thousands of product nutrition labels, recipe calorie counts, and diets.
What to do at the supermarket:
Almonds are a healthy, satisfying, and tasty snack, new calorie count or not. Your best deal is to buy them in bulk, unsalted and unroasted.