Nut-based Brands May Adjust Calorie Counts After USDA Research

Good News Notes:

“The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has found that almonds, cashews, pistachios and walnuts all contain less calories than originally thought, according to a series of studies that began in 2012. This opens the door for brands with nut-based products to update their products’ nutrition panels — and potentially even position themselves differently to reach consumers who may be concerned with calories.

David J. Baer, PhD, an ARS research leader who co-led the studies, said that whole unroasted and roasted almonds have 19 to 25% fewer calories than previously thought, while whole roasted cashews have 16% fewer calories. The original numbers, Baer said, were determined using the Atwater factors, a method for calorie calculation developed over 100 years ago, that informs most of the calorie data on current Nutrition Facts panels.

The researchers predicted this method might be inaccurate for certain food groups that are more difficult to digest. For example, nut pieces that aren’t digested also mean those calories are not digested. While nuts are nutrient-dense and can help fight certain diseases, some consumers avoid them due to calorie concerns, Baer said. These findings could attract more consumers to the heart-healthy snack, he added.”

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