If almonds are your favorite snack, good news! They used to have about 170 calories per serving. Then researchers said it was more like 130. And now they say the nuts may have even less.
But the bigger story for calorie counters is that the figures printed on nutrition labels may not be all that.
The recent change for almonds came after studies showed the nuts had fewer digestible calories than previously believed. The studies highlight the inexact method of determining calorie counts that was established more than a century ago. The widely used system says a gram of carbohydrates and a gram of protein each have 4 calories, while a gram of fat has around 9. Companies can also subtract some digits based on past estimates of how much of different foods are not digested.
But based on anecdotal comments, researchers suspected more of the nutrients in nuts may be expelled in the bathroom than previously estimated.
“If they’re not digested, then maybe the calorie content is not correct,” David Baer, a supervisory research physiologist and a co-author of the nut studies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told the Associated Press.
How the nut was processed also made a difference: roasted almonds had slightly more digestible calories than raw almonds.
Despite his findings, Baer said he believes the calorie counts used for most foods are fairly accurate.