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Almonds contain fewer calories than you think

Almonds contain fewer calories than you think
Nutritionists have encountered a few times what we call the 'almond mystery': people who start to eat more almonds don't get fatter. [Br J Nutr. 2007 Sep;98(3):651-6.] Sounds strange, doesn't it? Especially if you consider that a handful of almonds is worth at least 150 kilocalories. Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture have solved the puzzle.

Calories in food
We wrote a few days ago about research done by journalists and scientists, which shows that food labels tend to underestimate the number of calories in manufactures food products. A few months ago researchers at the US Department of Agriculture published the results of a study which indicate that the opposite is the case for almonds. You don't absorb anything like all the calories that almonds contain.

The researchers started by giving 18 test subjects a standard diet for 18 days, followed by a diet that was supplemented by 42 g almonds each day for 18 days, and finally a diet supplemented by 84 g almonds for another 18 days.

So, you don't absorb anything like all the energy that almonds contain. The second table shows this. It's also a simplified version. Click on it for the complete version.

The effect is pretty strong: according to the Americans' calculations you only absorb 68 percent of the energy that the tables suggest is present in almonds.

Almonds contain fewer calories than you think

Almonds contain fewer calories than you think

The researchers gave their subjects whole almonds. Their study says nothing about ground almonds, but the energy uptake from ground almonds is probably considerably higher. The study was funded by the Almond Board of California. []

"When an 84-g serving of almonds was incorporated into the diet daily, the energy digestibility of the diet as a whole decreased by 5 percent", the researchers write. "Therefore, for individuals with energy intakes between 2000 and 3000 kcal/day, incorporation of 84 g almonds into the diet daily in exchange for highly digestible foods would result in a reduction of available energy of 100150 kcal/day."

Pistachio nuts
The researchers performed a similar study with pistachio nuts. [Br J Nutr. 2012 Jan; 107(1): 120-5.] The results of this study are not as attractive to slimmers who like their nuts. The subjects absorbed 95 percent of the energy contained in the pistachio nuts.

Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Aug;96(2):296-301.

There are more calories in your food than you think 05.04.2013