Almonds – When is a Calorie Not a Calorie?

 Breaking News
  • European Commission Clears Bayer’s Acquisition of Monsanto The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the $62.5 billion acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer. The merger is conditional on the divestiture of an extensive remedy package, which addresses the parties’ overlaps in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, says: “We have approved Bayer’s plans to [...]...
  • Management Plan to Fortify Fishing Sector in Western Mediterranean Sea The European Commission has proposed a multi-annual plan for fish stocks in the western Mediterranean Sea. The proposal covers demersal fish stocks, ie fish that live and feed at the bottom of the seabed, and bring a significant income to the fisheries sector in the region. According to the latest data, it is estimated that in 2015, [...]...
  • Major International Summit in Belfast to Tackle Escalating Problem of Food Integrity Food-security experts from all over the world will converge on Belfast from 28-31 May 2018 for a major Summit on how to feed a growing global population – amid massive challenges such as climate change, Brexit, labyrinthine food-supply chains and food fraud on a global scale. The Belfast Summit on Global Food Integrity will be chaired by Professor Chris Elliott [...]...
  • Cargill’s Launches De-oiled Rapeseed Lecithin Products In response to growing consumer demand for label-friendly ingredients, Cargill is introducing a new range of de-oiled lecithin products to complete its portfolio of GMO and non-GMO lecithin products.  A first to market in Europe, Cargill’s de-oiled rapeseed lecithin products help bakery and snacks manufacturers deliver the recognizable ingredient label that consumers want, at an [...]...
  • Tetra Pak Scoops Top Award For Manufacturing Excellence Tetra Pak’s packaging material factory in Izmir, Turkey, has received the world’s top award for manufacturing excellence. In doing so, it becomes only the 22nd factory worldwide to win the prestigious award in more than 40 years. Appraised by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance​, the World Class Total Production Maintenance (TPM) Award is presented to facilities that [...]...

Almonds – When is a Calorie Not a Calorie?

Almonds – When is a Calorie Not a Calorie?
February 07
10:53 2017

New data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that both roasted and unroasted almonds provide fewer calories than thought – and that the number of calories is largely dependent on form1 . The study, conducted by scientists from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and jointly funded by USDA ARS and Almond Board of California, shows that compared to the number of calories listed on nutrition labels, participants actually absorbed 25% fewer calories from whole unroasted almonds and 19% fewer calories from whole roasted almonds.

David Baer, PhD, and his team from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) conducted a controlled human clinical trial using a new method to measure the calories absorbed from almonds, taking bioavailability into account. The new method allowed the researchers to determine the number of calories actually digested and absorbed from almonds.

Traditionally, calories are determined using what are known as the Atwater factors, which was developed over 100 years ago, and assigns an estimated number of calories per gram of fat, protein and carbohydrate in a food. “We expanded upon the Atwater method in our study, so we could tease out the caloric value of a single target food,” explains Janet Novotny, PhD, a physiologist and mathematician with the research team. “Then using the study participants’ energy intake and energy output, we were able to measure the number of calories actually digested and absorbed from a single food – in this case, almonds.”

In 2012, the researchers conducted their first study using whole roasted almonds, which showed that the almonds provided fewer calories than thought2 . This time, the research team broadened their investigation to examine the calorie availability of additional almond forms, and also replicated the measurement of calories absorbed from whole roasted almonds. The researchers found that whole unroasted almonds provided 25% fewer calories than expected, while whole roasted almonds provided 19% fewer calories. Chopped roasted almonds provided 17% fewer calories, though the difference between the calories absorbed from chopped and whole roasted almonds was not statistically different. Measured calories in almond butter did not differ from calories estimated using Atwater factors.

Why the discrepancy between the two methods of determining calories? The Atwater method of calculating calories may overstate the calories from almonds because it simply doesn’t account for the fact that not all calories from almonds are available to the body. The chewing process does not completely break down almond cell walls, and almonds are therefore not completely absorbed during digestion.

And why the calorie difference between almond forms? Much of this finding has to do with particle size after chewing and digestion. The larger the particle size, after chewing for example, the less the almond is able to be broken down by digestive enzymes and more of the almond is excreted, so fewer calories are absorbed. The reverse is also true: the smaller the particle size, the more almond cells are exposed to digestive enzymes and the more calories are absorbed. In addition to chewing and digestion, mechanical processes, such as chopping, grinding and roasting almonds can also impact particle size.

According to David Baer, PhD: “Calories are created equal but their availability from foods is not equal. These new findings confirm that we actually get fewer calories than we thought from almonds, whether they are whole or chopped, roasted or unroasted, and the amount of calories absorbed is mostly dependent on the form of almonds consumed.” Further research is needed to better understand the results of this study and how this method of measuring calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods.

1 Gebauer SK, Novotny JA, Bornhorst GM and Baer DJ. Food processing and structure impact the metabolizable energy of almonds. Food & Function. 2016;7(10):4231-4238.

2 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;96(2):296-301.

About Author



Related Articles

Food & Drink Business Conference & Exhibition 2016

Upcoming Events

  • March 28, 2018FOOD INDUSTRY
  • April 4, 2018The leading event for the snack and food-on-the-go market
  • April 5, 2018Slow food The forum for good taste
  • April 10, 2018EXPO XXI Warsaw International Expocentre
AEC v1.0.4

find food jobs

The Magazine

F&D Business Preferred Suppliers

New Subscriber

Subscribe Here