Macronutrient Absorption from Almonds: The Measured Energy Value of Almonds in the Human Diet
Food Components and Health Laboratory
2013 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
To measure the macronutrient digestibility and epigenetic effects of consumption of almonds as part of a controlled diet in humans.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
ARS will conduct a randomized clinical trial to investigate the effect of almonds, a high-fat, high-fiber food on nutrient absorption and will collect samples to evaluate epigenetic effects, and the effect of almonds on pathways associated with cancer and cardiovascular disease.
This project is to measure absorption of macronutrients from almonds and to determine the energy value of these nuts. Accurate information about the metabolizable energy content of foods is important for reliable food labeling so consumers can make informed dietary choices. Results from epidemiological studies suggest that there is an inverse association between individuals who frequently consume nuts and body mass index, despite the relatively high energy density of nuts. Clinical studies have shown that fat from almonds and other nuts is not well absorbed; therefore, using Atwater factors for determining the energy value of almonds could result in an overestimation of the energy content. In fact, the Atwater factors overestimate the actual energy value of almonds by 20%. Moreover, almond consumption impacted the microbial population as measured in the feces. Additional research is ongoing to investigate the mechanism by which the consumption of almonds and other tree nuts alter LDL cholesterol.