Don’t be surprised if you start seeing nutrition labels on nut products listing lower calorie counts than they did previously. A series of studies over the last several years by the USDA has revealed that walnuts, almonds, cashews, and pistachios have anywhere from 5 to 25 percent fewer calories than once thought, depending on the particular nut and its form and processing (whole, roasted, chopped, etc.).
That’s because some of the fat, carbs, and protein in nuts pass through the intestines undigested, so not all their calories are absorbed. Yet the standard way for companies to calculate calories on nutrition labels—the Atwater system, developed more than 100 years ago—overestimates calories in certain foods, nuts in particular.
KIND is the first company to redo its nutrition labels to reflect these newer calculations, with its nut bars now listing 10 to 30 fewer calories each than they did before. For example, the label on its Dark Chocolate Nuts & Sea Salt bar shows 180 calories, down from 200.
Other companies will likely follow suit. But don’t let the lower calorie counts be an excuse to eat an excess of nuts or nut products: All nuts are still calorie-dense foods that should be consumed in moderation.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
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