Intake of nuts rose sharply during the first decade of the 2000s, one of few food groups to see a major shift, according to recently published government data. Overall daily caloric intake fell slightly between 2000 and 2010.
During a period in which the health benefits of nuts were widely touted by the nut industry and by nutritionists, daily intake rose by 26%. Daily consumption of nuts averaged 72 calories per person in 2010, up from 26% in 2000. Still a relatively small part of the overall diet, nuts accounted for 2.9% of caloric intake in 2010, up from 2.2% in 2000.
The data were published in the December issue of Amber Waves, an E.R.S. publication. “A Look at Calorie Sources in the American Diet,” was written by Sarah Rehkamp, an agricultural economist with the U.S.D.A.
Overall caloric intake during the period slipped to 2,478 calories per day, down 3% from 2,540 calories in 2000.
The figures were based on the E.R.S. loss-adjusted food availability data, which are calculated based on the supply of food available for consumption and adjusted downward to approximate actual consumption by calculating and subtracting spoilage and other losses that occur from farm to retail and in grocery stores, restaurants and homes. The aggregate figures around 2,500 calories were well below many estimates of daily caloric intake, averaging more than 3,500 calories in the United States.
The largest shift in “share of stomach” during the decade, according to the E.R.S., was a two percentage point gain for added plant-based fats. The second largest source of calories in the diet after grains, added fats (plant-based) intake accounted for 518 calories per day, up 8% from 480 calories in 2000. Added vegetable fats accounted for 21% of caloric intake in 2010, versus only 19% in 2000.
Losing the most “share of stomach” during the decade were added sugars. At 369 calories, daily sugar intake fell 11% from 416 calories in 2000. The share of caloric intake accounted for by sugar slipped to 14.9% in 2010 from 16.4% in 2000.
Plant-based sources, including grains, produce, sugar and plant-based added fats accounted for 71% of caloric intake in 2010, up from 70% in 2000.
Daily intake of grains in 2010 totaled 581 calories, down 2.5% from 596 calories in 2000. Grains’ share of total caloric intake held nearly unchanged, at 23.4%, versus 23.5% in 2000.
Among animal sources of calories, the meat, poultry and fish category was largest and weakest. At 416 calories, daily intake of meat poultry and fish fell 5% from 438 in 2000. Share of caloric intake for the category fell to 16.8% in 2010 from 17.2% in 2000.
A period of extraordinary growth for certain dairy categories, notable yogurt, did not translate into overall growth. Daily consumption of dairy in 2010 was 234 calories, down 4.5% from 245 calories in 2000. The dairy “share of stomach” fell to 9.4% in 2010 from 9.6% in 2000.
Intake of added animal fats rose to 44 calories per day in 2010, up 7% from 41 calories in 2000. Share of caloric intake for added fats climbed to 1.8% in 2010, from 1.6% in 2000.
Daily consumption of eggs equaled 37 calories in 2010, down 2.6% from 38 calories in 2000. Share of stomach held steady over the decade at 1.5%.