Chewing your food more can help you to retain energy levels, according to a study presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago.

In the study, carried out by a research team at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, participants were required to chew almonds, while the amount of fecal fat and energy lost was measured.

The participants chewed the almonds either 10 times, 25 times or 40 times.

Results showed that in participants who chewed the almonds more, the smaller particles entered were absorbed into the system at a faster pace.

In those participants who chewed the almonds less, the body eliminated the larger particles.

Dr. Richard Mattes, professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University, explains:

“Particle size [affects the] bioaccessibility of the energy of the food that is being consumed. The more you chew, the less is lost and more is retained in the body.”

Dr. Mattes says that each individual has their own chewing habit, and although this can be hard to change, it should be considered when making energy food choices. He explains:

“If the goal is to include food that is enjoyable and contributes protein, a whole almond is probably the way you want to go. If you’re interested in maximizing Vitamin E intake, chopped almonds, almond butter or almond oil may be a better choice.”

Mixed fibers from fruits, vegetables and whole grains are the highest energy sources, Dr. Mattes adds. “When your total diet is higher in fiber, there’s a greater loss of fat. Fiber binds with fatty acids to create energy sources in the body.”

A separate study, also presented at the IFT Annual Meeting, by Dr. Roger Clemens, chief scientific officer of Horn Company of La Mirada, California, shows that scientists continue to estimate how much energy comes from food on the basis of calculations created over 125 years ago.

Dr. Clemens says that there are many things that can have an impact on how efficiently the body takes energy from plant-based food or ingredients, particularly foods high in dietary fiber, cereals and plant extracts, nuts and seeds.

Based on this, Clemens adds that further studies are needed to boost understanding of the digestibility of plant-based foods, which could lead to better product labeling.

Written by Honor Whiteman