Washington: A study has found that fat in pistachios may not be completely absorbed by the body, making them effectively lower in calories than previously thought.
The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted the first-of-its-kind study with nuts.
The findings further validate pistachios as one of the lowest calorie nuts with 160 calories per 30 gram serving (approximately 1 ounce).
The research measured the energy value of pistachios by feeding 16 healthy adults the nuts as part of a controlled diet and calculating the energy value from differences in energy excretion during the dietary treatment timeframe.
The resulting energy value of one 30 gram serving of pistachios was 5.9 percent less than previous calculations.
"Existing scientific research indicates that fat from nuts is poorly absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract," said lead ARS researcher David J. Baer, Supervisory Research Physiologist with the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center.
"This study confirms that the fat from pistachio nuts, specifically, is not completely digested or absorbed, resulting in a lower energy value," he added.
The new data demonstrating the potential calorie savings of pistachios builds on previous research showing that pistachios are a weight-wise snack.
According to researchers at the University of California – Los Angeles, choosing to snack on pistachios rather than pretzels not only supports body mass index (BMI) goals, but can support heart health, too.
In a 12-week randomized study, 52 overweight and obese subjects were placed on a 500-calorie deficit diet and assigned to either a pistachio snack (about 75 pistachios providing 240 calories) or a pretzel snack group (two-ounces of pretzels providing 220 calories).
The results showed that the pistachio group had better success with supporting their BMI goals compared to the pretzel group, showing pistachios can be included in a healthy diet, even for those managing their weight.
The study was presented at the Experimental Biology conference in Washington, D.C.