CREDIT: Nuts photo via Shutterstock
Almonds are among my favorite snack foods. Not only are they super convenient (no prep time whatsoever), but they're also rich in fiber, vitamins, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
Additionally, there is evidence that almonds have cholesterol-lowering effects, according to a 2011 study in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.
So, there are plenty of reasons to snack on almonds, but also one reason why you shouldn't go hog wild on the nuts: calorie count. Fortunately, there is some good news on this front — almonds may actually have about 30 percent fewer calories than thought, according to a study published in July in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Previous estimates suggested that one serving (about an ounce) of almonds had 170 calories, but the new study, which was partly funded by the industry group Almond Board of California, found that the nuts contain about 130 calories per serving.
A similar study published earlier this year by the same researchers found that pistachios have about 5 percent fewer calories than previously thought. Researchers calculate the amount of energy in food (as measured in calories) in food by a method called the Atwater factor, but these studies are now suggesting that this formula may not be accurate for every food, and especially for nuts.
In the almond study, researchers analyzed the feces and urine of people who ate different quantities of nuts. It sounds pretty gross, but what they found was surprising: people who ate more nuts had more fat in their poop. That means their bodies aren't absorbing all the fat in the nut — some of it passed right through. So, there's a disconnect between the energy content of the nut, and what our bodies use, the researchers concluded.
Here are some tips for enjoying almonds on a regular basis.
Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!