Walnuts have 21 per cent fewer calories: USDA

Washington :In a significant find for the calorie-conscious, researchers today said walnuts have 21 per cent fewer calories than what is currently assigned by US government to the ‘king of nuts’.

A new study published in the prestigious Journal of Nutrition found that walnuts have 21 per cent fewer calories than what is currently assigned by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The study led by Dr David J Baer, Supervisory Research Physiologist at the USDA shows that one serving (1 ounce or 28.35 grams) of walnuts contains 146 calories, not 185, which is 39 calories less than the value currently used.

Historically, the calorie value for walnuts was determined using the Atwater factors, which were developed in the late 19th century and calculate metabolisable energy, or energy available to the body, for many foods.

Baer’s research found that the metabolisable energy of walnuts was 21 per cent less than that predicted by the Atwater factors.

“Yes, these are significant results in the sense that they provide, for the first time, an accurate measure of the number of calories in a serving of walnuts. This research overcomes limitations of research conducted over 100 years ago whose results are still used today,” Baer told PTI.

“Our results could help explain why consumers of walnuts do not typically gain weight. And given the numerous potential health benefits of consuming walnuts, including reduced risk for cancer, cardiovascular and cognitive diseases, our results could potentially help alleviate any calorie-related concerns consumers might have with incorporating them into their everyday diet,” Baer said.

He said that there are many aspects of a food to consider when one decides what and how much to eat.

“High fat foods do not necessarily make us fat and low fat foods are not necessarily the healthiest for us to eat.
We have to consider the availability of calories when making food choices, especially for tree nuts,” Baer said.

“Walnuts are a good or excellent source of several important nutrients. However, some consumers might be reluctant to include walnuts in their diet for fear that consuming walnuts might lead to weight gain.

“For those calorie-conscious consumers who might avoid walnuts, our results show that the number of calories in a serving of walnuts is significantly less that what is currently on the food label, he said.

Walnuts contain several antioxidants and polyphenols which provide multiple benefits to health.