Press Release Provided by California Walnut Board
Walnuts meet the criteria for a “healthy” food based on the important nutrients they provide, according to a long-awaited announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) detailing a new proposed definition and criteria for healthy foods. This announcement, released in conjunction with the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, marks the first time the criteria for “healthy” has been updated since the 1990s. Walnuts supply 4g of protein, 2g of fiber, and are the only nut to provide an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (2.5g).
“Walnuts are highly versatile, and accessible and play a valuable role in a variety of recommended dietary patterns. We are delighted to see FDA’s proposed new definition for “healthy” would officially recognize walnuts as a healthy food,” shared Robert Verloop. “The FDA’s new proposed rule affirms decades of nutrition research to reinforce the important contribution of walnuts in a healthy lifestyle, providing additional reason to move walnuts beyond the baking aisle and highlight them among other healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables.”
According to the latest 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines, more than half of Americans do not meet the recommended intake for nuts. However, nuts, such as walnuts, are advised for consumption to help support the reduction of saturated fat by substituting in unsaturated fat. The total fat in walnuts (18g) is mostly comprised of good polyunsaturated fats (13g/oz) and omega-3 ALA (2.5g/oz), an essential fatty acid that may play a role in heart health.
Walnuts are also acknowledged by governmental and leading scientific institutions, including the American Heart Association, for helping Americans build healthier diets. The FDA granted a qualified heart health claim for walnuts in 2004 and included walnuts in a general qualified heart health claim for nuts. Additionally, the 2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages consumers to choose foods that are nutrient-dense such as walnuts.
The California walnut industry has a longstanding commitment to ensuring the public has access to accurate information about the nutritional value and health benefits of walnuts. Since 1991, California walnuts has supported research resulting in more than 200 publications in the areas of heart health, cognition, cancer, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, body weight/composition, and reproductive health.
Walnuts are extremely versatile in meals and make for a simple, convenient snack. For more information about the nutritional benefits of California walnuts along with delicious recipe inspiration, please visit Walnuts.org.