1. Food

Kind Snacks lowers calorie count after USDA research

In latest years, scientists found that the usual means of measuring energy for some meals was flawed.

Most of the information on the power worth of meals — also referred to as energy — was generated within the late 1890s and within the early 1900s, David Baer, a USDA researcher who works on these research, instructed Food Dive. He mentioned there’s additionally some research from the 1940s, “but that’s about it.”

“We kind of rely on this really, really old data,” he mentioned. 

But that modified when researchers found a distinct methodology to calculate energy. Using this new approach, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service discovered that entire nuts, like almonds and cashews, have 19% and 16% much less energy, respectively, than beforehand thought due to the best way shoppers digest its fats.

As a results of this discovery, Kind Snacks is altering its labels. Kind introduced Tuesday that it’s the first nationwide snack model to replace their labels primarily based on this research. The firm mentioned that greater than 95% of its nut bar portfolio shall be impacted. Kind is reducing its energy by 10-30 per bar relying on the nuts they comprise, the corporate mentioned in a launch shared with Food Dive. 

This research started when Baer mentioned some individuals had observed that when shoppers eat nuts, a number of it’s digested shortly. That made him suppose that if it is passing by means of, it is not being absorbed and due to this fact, the energy aren’t both. However, there are some challenges to amassing the information as a result of whereas they’ve the expertise to measure the power worth of meals earlier than and after digestion, it’s troublesome to find out the latter for every ingredient since individuals eat a wide range of meals all through the day, he mentioned.

“You can’t easily separate what isn’t being digested from the nuts or the bread or the fruit or whatever else is in the diet,” he mentioned. “So we devised an approach, and then it actually required quite a bit of math to come up with the equations that would give us the energy value of say nuts when it’s fed as part of a mixed diet.”

Once they discovered the equation, scientists realized that the earlier means of calculating energy was inaccurate for sure meals, like nuts.

Jeff Wells


So why is Kind making this alteration now? Stephanie Csaszar, Kind’s well being and wellness skilled, ​instructed Food Dive that many different main diet bar manufacturers comprise a type of sugar or protein mix because the predominant ingredient, however Kind makes use of nuts. She hopes different manufacturers with nuts observe Kind’s lead in dropping their calorie counts. 

“We really wanted to adopt this now because we feel that, first off, tree nut consumption has been growing significantly over the past several years, and we know that individuals are looking at calories in their decision-making for choosing a healthy snack, as well as trying to understand ways that they can make better food choices,” Csaszar mentioned. ​Tree nut consumption has grown 88% from 2000 to 2017, ​in response to information offered by Kind.

“Our effort is focused on educating our community on the importance of this updated nut calorie research to help them make more informed food choices,” Csaszar​ mentioned. She famous that the corporate didn’t conduct its personal testing on nut energy due to “the credibility of this research.” 

The snack bar maker’s push to replace and publicize its labels change might assist it increase gross sales as its merchandise drop in calorie count. Almost 90% of shoppers learn labels and energy are the second most checked merchandise, in response to the NPD Group

While Kind did not have any involvement or affect within the USDA’s research on nuts, the corporate has advocated for nuts for years. In 2016, the FDA up to date its definition of “healthy” to incorporate high-fat merchandise like almonds and avocados. Its determination to revise the definition got here after Kind challenged an FDA warning letter saying it couldn’t name its bars “healthy” as a result of they’d an excessive amount of saturated fats. The FDA reversed its determination, and Kind has since used the time period “healthy” on packaging.

“I think it’s important for consumers to understand that the health benefits of the nut stands,” he mentioned. “We’re just doing a better job determining how many calories you get from a serving.”

David Baer

Researcher, USDA

A variety of research have discovered that nuts have numerous well being advantages, together with reducing the chance of weight problems, decreasing the chance of coronary heart illness and containing excessive fiber and protein. Baer mentioned this research about energy would not change that. 

“I think it’s important for consumers to understand that the health benefits of the nut stands,” he mentioned. “We’re just doing a better job determining how many calories you get from a serving.”

In addition to nuts, researchers at USDA are learning the calorie counts of different merchandise, particularly plant-based meals. Currently within the lab, Baer mentioned they’ve a venture taking a look at chickpeas and lentils. While most plant-based meals aren’t excessive in fats, they’re excessive in fiber — and there is at all times been a query within the scientific group of what number of energy there are in fiber, he mentioned. To reply this query, they’re utilizing this identical methodology. 

“We’re extending the approach to some different types of foods,” he mentioned. “We’re about a third of the way through the study on chickpeas and lentils and we will finish with the feeding part of it by the end of February and then start to do some of the analyses.”

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