AHA certifies walnuts as heart-healthy food

California Walnuts is proud to announce that the American Heart Association is now certifying walnuts as a heart-healthy food.  The Heart-Check mark easily identifies foods that meet the nutritional standards set by the American Heart Association and provides consumers a quick and reliable way to identify heart-healthy foods.  

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD), including heart disease and stroke, are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. The disease process can start early in life and is influenced over time by lifestyle behaviors including poor nutrition.  The Heart-Check mark can help consumers take a step in the right direction in making good food choices.  "Eating a handful of walnuts a day is a delicious way to protect the heart," says Michael Roizen, M.D. Institute Chair, Chief Wellness Officer Wellness Institute Cleveland Clinic.  "Walnuts offer antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, protein and the only nut providing a significant amount of the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  People would be nuts not to include them in their diet."  In fact, some of the most popular nuts on grocery store shelves do not contain any ALA.

There is a strong body of scientific research on walnuts, which began in 1993 with the landmark Loma Linda University study conducted by Dr. Joan Sabate Chair and Professor of the Department of Nutrition at the School of Public Health, showing walnuts lower LDL 'bad' cholesterol by as much as 16 percent.  Considering almost 50 California walnut studies have been published to date, Dr. Sabate believes that "the strength of research on walnuts makes them an essential food for heart patients."  

The cardioprotective effects of walnuts have been studied at world-renowned institutions including Harvard, Penn State and Yale Universities and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  The research substantiating the specific benefit of consuming walnuts as part of a heart-healthy diet in reducing the risk of heart disease is so strong that in 2004 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted walnuts one of the first qualified health claims for a whole food.  

Dr. Rachel Johnson, Ph.D., R.D., the Bickford Green and Gold Professor of Nutrition at the University of Vermont and an American Heart Association spokesperson said, "We know that consumers have relied on the American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark to easily identify heart-healthy foods for more than 15 years.  Adding nuts, fish and other foods that are rich sources of good fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, enhances the program and gives more healthy options consumers can choose with the same trust factor."

The American Heart Association's Heart-Check mark is a credible reference and an icon that consumers trust.  In fact, 83 percent of consumers have an aided awareness of the Heart-Check mark, and 73 percent of primary grocery shoppers say the Heart-Check mark improves the likelihood that they'll buy a product.

Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University believes "the Heart-Check mark on walnuts is an important step forward in our thinking about how to eat heart healthy.  Emphasizing good fats is important and walnuts are loaded with good fats in the form of polyunsaturated fatty acids."  She states "unsalted walnuts are nutrient-dense and a can easily fit in a heart-healthy diet."

SOURCE California Walnut Board


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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