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Energy compensation and nutrient displacement following regular consumption of hazelnuts and other energy-dense snack foods in non-obese individuals



Regular nut consumption reduces cardiovascular disease risk, partly from improvements to dietary quality. Examining how individuals make dietary changes when consuming nuts may reveal key behavioural eating patterns beneficial for the development of dietary interventions. We examined the effects of nuts in comparison with other energy-dense snacks on energy compensation, nutrient displacement, and food group patterns.


This was a 12-week randomised, controlled, parallel study with four arms: ~1100 kJ/day for each of hazelnuts (42 g), chocolate (50 g), potato crisps (50 g), or no added snack food. Diet records, body composition, and physical activity were measured at baseline and week 12, in 102 non-obese participants.


Significant improvements in diet quality were observed in the hazelnut group, particularly when consumed as snacks. Intakes of monounsaturated fat (MUFA) and vitamin E were significantly higher (all P < 0.05), whereas saturated fat and carbohydrate were significantly lower (both P ≤ 0.022) in the hazelnut group compared to the other groups. Partial energy compensation did not differ significantly between groups, but nutrient displacement values for MUFA and fibre differed significantly. Within the hazelnut group, there was nearly complete displacement for fibre, partial displacement for energy, protein, total fat, MUFA, PUFA, potassium, folate, and vitamin E, and overcompensation for carbohydrate and sugar.


Our results demonstrate that energy compensation occurs for all three intervention snacks in this non-obese population. Regular nut consumption significantly improves nutrient profiles compared to other snacks with changes occurring at the snack level.

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The funding for the present study was provided by a University of Otago Research Grant. The authors would like to thank the participants for their commitment and enthusiasm in participating in this study.

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Correspondence to Rachel C. Brown.

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On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

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Pearson, K.R., Tey, S.L., Gray, A.R. et al. Energy compensation and nutrient displacement following regular consumption of hazelnuts and other energy-dense snack foods in non-obese individuals. Eur J Nutr 56, 1255–1267 (2017).

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  • Hazelnuts
  • Nutrient intake
  • Nutrient displacement
  • Energy compensation
  • Snack