What is in this article?:
- Almonds pack far fewer calories than thought
- Whole almonds
- Whole almonds provide about 20 percent fewer calories than originally thought.
- The news not only may lead people to choose almonds more often as a smart snack -- they may have implications for certain other foods as well.
The results reported in the study are applicable only to whole almonds, and while no additional studies have been conducted yet, the discrepancy in calories may not be consistent for other forms of almonds such as almond butter or slivered or sliced almonds as the finer particles may lead to more complete digestion. Globally, however, whole almonds are consumed in far greater proportion than are other forms.
The California almond industry is now working with government agencies to determine what these study results may mean for future consumer education about almonds, such as nutrition labeling.
Almonds are low in saturated and trans fats. A healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats may reduce the risk of heart disease. Almonds also are nutrient-rich. Per 30 gram serving, almonds contain more protein (6.4 g), dietary fibre (3.7 g), calcium (79.2 g), vitamin E (7.9 mg), riboflavin (0.3 mg), and niacin (1.0 mg) than any other tree nut.
eStudy at a Glance:
Study: A study was conducted to compare, for almonds, the measured energy value and the energy value calculated using Atwater factors, the primary method used to determine the energy content of foods. Eighteen healthy adults consumed, in random order, one of three isocaloric diets for 18 days each. The three diets were administered to subjects in a crossover design and the diets contained 1 of 3 almond doses: 0, 42, or 84 grams per day. During the final 9 days of each treatment, volunteers collected all urine and faeces, and samples of the diets, urine, and faeces were analysed for macronutrient and energy contents. From these values, the "measured" (metabolisable) energy content of the almonds was determined.
Results: The measured energy content of almonds, when administered as part of a mixed diet, was 129 kilocalories per 28-gram serving (4.6 +/- 0.8 kcal/g). This is significantly less than the energy content of 168-170 kcal per serving (6.0 - 6.1 kcal/g), calculated using the Atwater factors. When applied to almonds, the Atwater factors resulted in a calculated energy value that was 32 per cent greater than the measured energy value.
Conclusion: This study provides evidence that almonds provide approximately 20 per cent fewer metabolisable calories than originally thought. The Atwater factors, when applied to certain foods such as almonds, may result in an overestimation of their energy content because of the inability to account for the incomplete digestibility and absorption of macronutrients such as fat.
Consumers all over the world enjoy California Almonds as a natural, wholesome and quality food product, making almonds California's leading agricultural export in terms of value. The Almond Board of California promotes almonds through its research-based approach to all aspects of marketing, farming and production on behalf of the more than 6,000 California Almond growers and processors, many of whom are multi-generational family operations. Established in 1950 and based in Modesto, California, the Almond Board of California is a non-profit organization that administers a grower-enacted Federal Marketing Order under the supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. For more information on the Almond Board of California or almonds, visit www.AlmondBoard.com.
1 Novotny JA, Gebauer SK, Baer DJ. Discrepancy between the Atwater factor predicted and empirically measured energy values of almonds in human diets. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012 ajcn.035782; First published online July 3, 2012.doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.035782
2 Baer DJ, Gebauer SK, Novotny JA. Measured energy value of pistachios in the human diet.British Journal of Nutrition 14 January 2012 107 : pp 120-125
3 Ellis PR, et. al. Role of cell walls in the bioaccessibility of lipids in almond seeds. Am J Clin Nutr 2004; 80:604-13.
4 Atwater, WO, Bryant AP. The availability and fuel value of food materials. Storrs, CT: USDA, 1900 (Agriculture Experiment Station 12th Annual Report 73-110.)