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New Research Shows that Nuts May Have Fewer Calories Than We Originally Thought

January 17, 2020

Nuts are good for you due to their healthy fats and protein, but you may have been hesitant in the past to nosh on a bag of nuts due to their high calorie and fat count. As it stands, there are several calories per serving, so unless you’re portioning wisely, those can surely add up. That fear alone has kept some from making nuts a part of their diet.

Yet, new research from The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) just found that almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts all have fewer calories than we expected and have been calculating based off of a method from over 100 years ago—outdated, to say the least. This new finding arrives at the completion of a series of studies that started back in 2012.

As a result some snack food brands are changing their nutrition labels to accommodate the recent change, too.

What This Means

According to an ARS research leader David J. Baer, PhD, who co-led the studies, whole unroasted and roasted almonds have 19 to 25% fewer calories than expected, and whole roasted cashews have 16% fewer calories. Apparently the way we calculated nuts’ nutrition was based on a method from over 100 years ago—outdated, to say the least. A drawback? Almond butter’s calorie count remains the same, since the processed form causes us to absorb the same amount of fat. (You can probably consider this a rule for nut butters in general.)

What’s more, a 2015 study on walnuts showed they have 21% fewer calories, and a 2011 study found pistachios have 5% fewer calories, so the LDL cholesterol content lowered by 6%.

While we’ll have to wait for updates to the USDA’s national nutrient database and the Food and Drug Administration won’t regulate such updates from companies (though we hope they’d be honest!), we can look towards some brands that are already implementing changes to their labels based on the research!

And Brands Are Already Changing Labels

For instance, KIND Nut Bar has made such changes to their signature bars. As shown in a recent press release, the brand redesigned its labels using the updated calorie counts for almonds and cashews! That means, the Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt now has a reduced calorie count of 180 (it was 200) and the mini Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bars lost 10 calories too, so they are now 90 calories a bar. In general, calories were lowered 10-30 calories per bar. Which is huge! We can only hope for more changes from brands in the future. Guess it’s time to grab some nuts for your oatmeal, yogurt, or morning smoothie now, huh?

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