Blog: Almonds Research Blog
by RisingSun

Study:Almonds Improve Heart Health

The claim states: Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Date:   3/24/2005 8:49:24 AM   ( 17 y ) ... viewed 3276 times

FDA: Eating a Daily Serving of Almonds May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Government Issues Health Claim for 1.5 Ounces of Most Nuts; Almonds Join Elite List of Foods That Deliver Heart Health

07/15/2003 - Here’s some good news to crunch on: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today approved the first qualified health claim for conventional food, saying that eating one and a half ounces of most nuts, including almonds, may reduce the risk of heart disease when they’re part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

The claim states: Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

The claim is one of only six existing health claims relating to heart disease, and is the result of rigorous review of a large body of scientific research citing the heart health benefits of nuts. The claim is a result of a petition filed by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation.

Studies supporting the heart health benefits of almonds were among the strongest submitted in the claim. One and a half ounces equals about one-third cup, or about 34 almonds.

The new health claim is a qualified one, which means that the FDA evaluated the data and determined that “though there is scientific evidence to support this claim, the evidence is not conclusive.” This is the first qualified claim the FDA has issued on a conventional food, as part of its recently updated policy to offer qualified health claims on certain foods when it helps consumers understand potential health benefits.

“Many of the studies showing nuts’ heart-healthy benefits are relatively new, but it’s great news for consumers that FDA has gone ahead and issued this qualified claim,” said FDA health claim expert Victor Fulgoni, Ph.D. of Nutrition Impact LLC. “It means that consumers are hearing the results of the latest science more quickly and consumers can have confidence in the claim since FDA has reviewed the science.”

Fulgoni said the ruling is a result of a careful review of peer-reviewed clinical trials on almonds and other nuts. “In particular, very recently there have been two well-designed, dose response studies published showing almonds’ role in lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol levels,” he said.

FDA’s authorization may come as a surprise to those who mistakenly believe nuts are a food to avoid. However, this claim is in line with recommendations from leading heart health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, which promote the substitution of foods high in saturated fats with those containing healthful, unsaturated fats such as the monounsaturated fats found in almonds.

Why Almonds?
Almonds consistently rank as Americans’ favorite tree nut. Why? “They’re packed with nutrition, and it’s hard to think of a nut that’s more tasty or versatile,” said Carolyn O’Neil, M.S., R.D. “Almonds go with just about everything. You can enjoy a handful as a snack, or sprinkle them on fruit, cereal, yogurt, salads and cooked vegetables. Or, add almonds to rice and other grain dishes to add crunchy texture, great taste and a nutritional boost.”

Nutritious Nuts
As shown in the chart below, many nuts are high in important nutrients. A one-and-a-half ounce handful of almonds, for example, is a leading source of vitamin E and magnesium and offers protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and iron in 246 calories. Moreover, almonds and other nuts contain phytochemicals – plant components that may provide powerful protection against heart disease, stroke, and other chronic diseases.

The following nuts are included in the new claim: almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts.

Taking Good News to Heart
Whole natural and roasted almonds are great for snacking but, before grabbing a pint of rocky road ice cream, consumers should know that this FDA claim will not appear on just any food product containing nuts, cautioned O’Neil. Nut-containing products will be eligible for the label if they meet criteria for healthful levels of saturated fat and cholesterol, and contain at least the minimum amount of nuts per serving to deliver the health benefits.

Nuts and Weight Maintenance
When eating more nuts, weight-conscious consumers should consider substituting them for something they normally eat, O’Neil advised. Fortunately, a small serving of nuts is very satisfying because of the healthy monounsaturated fats, protein and fiber nuts contain. For example, at snack time when you are looking for a crunchy treat, choose a handful of almonds over a larger serving of pretzels. “Almonds are a smart snack – and just a handful is nutritious, satisfying and convenient to carry.” O’Neil said.
in this issue:
• landmark FDA ruling on nuts
• what makes a great snack?
• the (vitamin) abc's of smart snacking
• how to curb the snacking urge
• urgent questions answered

10 Ways to Eat More Almonds
Pick a new way every day, or find your favorite routine. It’s hard to run out of uses for almonds, because their delicate, toasty flavor and crunch go with nearly any other food.

• Sprinkle almonds in granola and other cold cereal, as well as hot cereal or yogurt in the morning.

• Use almond milk in breakfast smoothies or on cereal – you can buy it in an unrefrigerated box at the supermarket, next to the soy milk.

• Spread almond butter on an English muffin with jam, or make an almond butter and jelly sandwich.

• Eat a handful of whole, natural almonds as a morning snack with a piece of fruit.

• Choose almonds instead of less nutrient-dense snacks such as chips or pretzels when the afternoon munchies hit.

• Sprinkle slivered almonds in a lunchtime salad or bowl of soup for a toasty crunch.

• Add slivered almonds to rice, pasta, or couscous dishes to add texture.

• Grind roasted almonds and sprinkle them on fish, poultry or pork for a nutritious “breading.”

• Add sliced almonds to cooked green beans, carrots or other vegetables for extra flavor.

• Use almonds in all kinds of desserts – they are a natural fit and go well with fruit and chocolate.

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