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businessinsider - 12 days ago

Almonds and cashews aren t as high-calorie as we thought, and Kind is cutting the calorie counts of its bars as a result

Six years of human studies from the USDA suggest that people don t actually absorb all of the calories contained in nuts. Instead, some of the contents of walnuts, cashews, and almonds just pass right through our systems, making them, on average, about 15 to 25% lower calorie than previously thought. The Kind snack company is changing its nutrition labels to reflect the USDA s data. Visit INSIDER s homepage for more stories. Nuts are calorie-dense snacks, but they re probably not as high-calorie as we ve been led to believe. The average walnut, almond, or cashew actually contains about 15-25% fewer calories than what most US nutrition labels suggest, according to a freshly-examined trove of studies from the USDA. As a result, the Kind snack company is now revamping the labels on some of its most popular bars. You can eat a few more nuts and not feel guilty, David Baer, who led the research at the USDA, told Insider. The reason we ve overcounted nut calories has to do with how human bodies process them, and how fiber protects and shrouds some of the calories inside the fruits from digestion. In the USDA studies, which examined walnuts, cashews, almonds, and pistachios over a period of six years, Baer and his team took a look at the feces of people who d eaten nuts. They figured out that some of the nuts people put in their mouths end up coming right out their other end, without ever being used for energy. We don t chew up the nut 100%, so we get these particles passing through, Baer said. Not all the calories are absorbed. Knowing what he knows now, the biologist said he doesn t hesitate to eat a few more nuts than he used to. Whether it s an almond or a walnut, they are nutrient-dense foods, he said. There s a lot of nuances, but at the end of the day, how many calories you consume and how many calories you expend does matter. Kind bars now have roughly 20 fewer calories in them, but the ingredients haven t changed On Tuesday, snack bar juggernaut Kind announced that the company will change its labels to reflect the USDA data, a drastic move that may be the first of its kind. The US Food and Drug Administration, the agency that regulates nutritional labels in the US, doesn t mandate a specific protocol for how companies calculate the calories in almonds, cashews, or other nuts, as long as the labels are relatively accurate. (Products that are found to be 20% more caloric than what s advertised on the label can be subject to regulatory action, if the FDA finds out.) FDA requires that labels must be truthful and not misleading, an FDA spokesperson told Insider via email. Manufacturers may use any appropriate method to calculate nutrient values that are declared on nutrition labels that ensure accuracy. Kind has already downshifted the calorie count on its nutrition facts for the bestselling Dark Chocolate Nuts Sea Salt bar. Each 40 gram bar now says it contains 180 calories, down from the previous 200 calorie tally. The way we consume almonds, they re a hard product to digest, and the calories don t all get absorbed, Kind founder and CEO Daniel Lubetzky told Insider. It is very important for people to feel comfortable eating more tree nuts. And, obviously we want them to be more comfortable eating more Kind bars. In Baer s studies, raw, whole nuts were some of the least caloric. Roasted nuts, crushed nuts, and almond butter each delivered progressively more calories, showing how the more processed and fine-ground nuts become, the more calories we can absorb from them. Nuts are good for the heart and linked to longer life Even though nuts are a high-fat, high-calorie food, they re consistently associated with good health outcomes, including longer lives and healthier hearts. Some 2018 nut research suggested that even a small handful of 10 to 14 mixed nuts a day could help improve one s cholesterol. A wide variety of nuts, eaten in small quantities each day, will lower blood LDL cholesterol the bad cholesterol, Gary Fraser, a public-health professor at Loma Linda University, told Business Insider when that nut research came out. Back in the lab, Baer is now conducting similar tests on how people process the calories in lentils and chickpeas. Those foods (which are not as fatty or caloric as nuts) still contain a substantial dose of fiber, which could affect how many calories our bodies ultimately absorb from them. Read more: 14 foods with wonderfully healthy fats that you should add to your plate The longest-lived people run on a high-carb diet, and it s a big part of their secret to living to 100 Women are faster long-distance runners than men, and it s probably because they ve got more estrogen There s now even more evidence that one type of protein is best for your body Join the conversation about this story NOW WATCH: Last minute gift wrapping? Here s how to wrap your present in under 2 minutes.


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