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You Asked: What’s the Best Work Snack?

Start stashing this nut in your desk.

Work munchies: they strike between breakfast and lunch, or an hour before you punch out. You could hold out for your next meal, but it’s not pretty when you get hangry.

So what should you reach for as you try to keep that New Year’s resolution? Fruits and vegetables are no-brainers. But for lots of reasons, walnuts are an optimal work snack, says Dr. Lenore Arab, a professor of medicine and disease prevention at UCLA.

Most nuts contain healthy antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, which improve cholesterol scores and also help lower rates of oxidative stress and vascular disease. But of all nuts, walnuts pack the greatest polyphenolic punch, according to a 2011 study appearing in the Royal Society of Chemistry.

MORE: Simply Eating Walnuts May Improve Your Overall Health

Walnuts beat out some other nuts when it comes to their stores of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), essential fats that both improve your metabolism and help you feel full. There’s evidence PUFAs help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. And the American Heart Association has linked the kinds of PUFAs found in walnuts to lower rates of heart disease and stroke, as well as better cellular health.

On top of all this, Arab points out that walnuts contain very little salt and are a super-convenient snack—no plates or utensils needed. They’re even easy on your teeth. (“My dentist says almonds are too hard,” she says.)

But setting all that aside, the most compelling reason to munch on walnuts might be their potential to support your brain.

MORE: The 50 (New) Healthiest Foods Of All Time—With Recipes

For a research paper published earlier this year, Arab and her colleagues examined the diet and lifestyle habits of thousands of adults. In terms of memory, concentration, and “information processing speed,” the people who ate walnuts significantly outperformed their nut-averse counterparts. These results held even after the study team adjusted their results to control for age, exercise, ethnicity and other lifestyle factors that could otherwise explain the apparent brain benefits.

The best part: just half an ounce of walnuts a day, roughly six or seven whole walnuts, is all you need to enjoy the benefits indicated by her study. (Full disclosure: The study was funded by the California Walnut Council. But Arab and her colleagues don’t receive money from walnut producers, and theirs is just the most recent of dozens of studies linking walnuts to brain and body benefits.)

When it comes to a walnut’s brain-supporting powers, “it seems to be a combination of nutrients that promote cognitive health, rather than just one component,” Arab says. She lists various vitamins and nutrients, the antioxidants mentioned above, and a type of plant-based omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid.

MORE: Eating Nuts Could Save You From Early Death

In a nutshell, walnuts are like a natural health supplement, chock full of salubrious compounds. “Eating a handful of walnuts daily as a snack or as part of a meal can help improve your cognitive health,” she says. “It isn’t every day that research results in such simple advice.”

Average person consumes 4.6 kilos of nuts

The nut economy 2014

The consumption of nuts consistently ranges between 3.8 to 4.6 kilos per person.  Peanuts, hazelnuts, pistachio and walnuts have been named as some of the favorite types of nuts.  In the last fiscal year (July 2014- July 2015) the Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (German Federal Bureau of Agriculture and Food) recorded that 345,200 tons of nuts were imported and consumed in Germany alone. 

The mostly commonly consumed are peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, Brazilian nuts and coconuts.  The most popular however is the peanut; in the fiscal year of 2014 Germans consumed a total of 105,000 tons of peanuts (with and without the shell).  In second place, the almonds with a total of 78,000 tons. Third place belongs to hazelnuts, with 53,000 tons.  Cashews, walnuts and pistachios all had similar amounts of consumption.

Cashews, walnuts and pistachios are neck and neck

In 2014/15 the net import of cashews is the fourth largest in Germany, at a total of 31,000 tons. Fifth place belongs to walnuts (with the shell) with a total of about 25,000 tons and pistachios in sixth place with a total import of 22,500 tons.  Coco/Brazilian nuts had about 4,000 tons. These amounts are based on the most current data available.

Quality check and tips for storage 
The best way to tell how fresh a nut is, is by looking at the flesh.  The lighter the flesh, the fresher it is and the more yellow the flesh, the older it is.  If the nut rattles inside it's shell, that is a sign that the nut has dried out. The nut should be intact and should not have a musty scent. Nuts still in the shell or even whole nuts will typically last longer than pre-cut or chopped nuts.  The reason being, the chopped nuts do not last as long because the natural oils of the nuts become rancid quicker due to exposure.  The packaging will also affect the self-life and the quality of the products.  Whole nuts or nuts in their shell will last the longest in nets or in wooden boxes.  Plastic bags will collect moisture that can promote mold.
Compact source of nutrition
What's inside?  These "power nuts" provide a huge amount of our daily requirements. Depending on the type of nut, every 100 grams provides between 42% to 73% of the fat we require daily and up to 25% of the protein. Also they contain a good source for fiber, minerals, vitamin B, vitamin C and folic acid.  To promote health, it is recommend we eat a moderate amount to benefit from their unsaturated fatty acids.



Publication date: 12/24/2015

Another positive plug for the NREF –funded nuts and all-cause mortality study…

16 reasons to go nuts for nuts

July 17, 2015 | By Dr. Ronald Hoffman

A recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine underscores the health benefits of nuts (“Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality”). Researchers followed over a hundred thousand men and women over a period of several decades and concluded that nut consumption helped them stave off the Grim Reaper.

In fact, seven or more servings of nuts per week cut the risk of dying by a third! (“A serving” was defined as one ounce) nuts_7


Specifically, consumers of nuts five or more times per week were found to enjoy a 29% reduction in death from heart disease; an 11% reduction in death from stroke; a 23% reduction in death from infection; a 24% reduction in death from respiratory diseases; a 29% reduction in death from kidney disease; and an 11% reduction in death from cancer. 

It’s long been known that nuts are heart-healthy. A now-famous study of Seventh-Day Adventists who consume a low-fat, plant-based diet compared non-nut consumers to nut-consumers, anticipating that the addition of fat- and calorie-laden nuts might raise their heart disease risk. Au contraire! 

Even though they were already on a heart-healthy predominantly vegetarian diet, those Adventists who consumed nuts at least five times weekly had a 48% lower risk of death from coronary heart disease and a 51% lower risk of a nonfatal heart attack compared to those who consumed nuts less than once weekly

Ironically, the Federal Government doesn’t want nut manufacturers to broadcast these benefits to consumers. In a recent case, the Food and Drug Administration sent a sharply-worded warning letter to Diamond Food, Inc., a manufacturer of walnuts, ordering them to “cease and desist” from making medical claims about their products. They even threatened to confiscate the “misbranded” nuts as illegal contraband! 

It seems that, the way the officials see it, if nuts are to be advertised as reducing the risk of a specific disease, they must undergo the same rigorous application process as drugs, an insurmountable regulatory hurdle that would require years of wrangling and hundreds of millions of dollars. 


Meanwhile, and fortunately, we don’t need FDA approval to enjoy the many health benefits of nuts. Here are 16 reasons why you might want to include them frequently in your diet. 


1) Nuts Are a Perfect VEGAN Food: With the current emphasis on plant-based diets, nuts provide a great complement to grains, fruits and vegetables, and legumes. They add protein and healthy oils to balance vegetarian diets that might otherwise tend to be carb-rich and skimpy in beneficial fats and certain vitamins and minerals. 

2) Nuts Are PALEO: That is, with the exception of peanuts, which are actually legumes, sometimes spurned by hard-core Paleo adherents because of their lectin content. Tree nuts and seeds are ancient staples of the human diet to which millions of years of evolution have made us well-adapted. 

3) Nuts are LOW-CARB, low GI: The Glycemic Index, or GI, is a determinant of how quickly the sugars in foods are digested, absorbed, and released into the bloodstream. High-GI foods are thought to overwhelm the body’s sugar-handling capabilities, resulting in progression towards Metabolic Syndrome and diabetes. Nuts are relatively low-carb to begin with, and the carbs they contain are released slowly after a meal. They make a great snack to stave off sugar-craving or hypoglycemia. 

4) Nuts promote SATIETY: While nuts are caloric, eating them promotes a sensation of fullness (satiety) that fends off the munchies for less healthy fat-laden or sugar-laden junk food. Some studies suggest that adding nuts to your diet can actually help you lose weight. 

5) Nuts are high in FIBER: While not traditionally thought of as a high-fiber food, nuts are rich in soluble fiber, the best kind for reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease. 

6) Nuts are a rich source of PHYTOSTEROLS: These plant sterols are thought to bind to cholesterol and help to sweep it harmlessly out of the body; phytosterols are even recognized by the American Heart Association as a natural way to reduce heart disease risk. 

7) Nuts contain HEALTHY FATS AND OILS: Nuts are rich in the essential fatty acids linoleic acid and alpha linolenic acid. Note the word essential: the body cannot make these oils on its own, and we must obtain them from outside sources. Lack of these essential fatty acids can cause dry skin, inflammation, infertility, mood and memory problems, and promote heart disease. 

8) Nuts are a great source of VITAMIN E: Getting your vitamin E from a pill may not be as good as getting natural vitamin E from nuts and seeds. There are actually eight different forms of natural vitamin E tocopherols and tocotrienols: nuts deliver the full spectrum of this critical antioxidant. 

9) Nuts are rich in B VITAMINS: Nuts provide many vital B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, and folates. 

10) Nuts are a source of critical POLYPHENOLS: Polyphenols are plant-derived antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals. Nuts contain a wide variety of polyphenols including resveratrol, lutein, cryptoxanthin and many others. Some seeds, like flaxseed and sesame, are rich in lignans, a specific subtype of polyphenols that may protect against reproductive cancers. 

11) Nuts are the richest plant source of ZINC: A mineral critical for immunity and reproductive function, strict vegetarians sometimes don’t get enough. 

12) Nuts are high in MAGNESIUM: Consider magnesium the energy mineral; its lack may be felt as fatigue or irritability and it can even increase the risk of heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. Magnesium’s role in bone metabolism is often underestimated. 

13) Nuts deliver COPPER: Unless you fancy liver or oysters, nuts and seeds are your best bet as dietary sources for the essential trace mineral copper. 

14) Nuts provide SELENIUM: Just two or three Brazil nuts per day can give you all the immune-boosting selenium your body needs, especially if you’re not fond of fish or meat. 

15) Nuts are PORTABLE: Unlike baked chicken breast or poached salmon, a small packet of nuts can easily be stashed in your briefcase, purse or backpack, ready to provide an instant, non-perishable hunger-banishing snack in the office, during your commute, or on the trail. 

16) Nuts are VERSATILE: They can be used as stand-alone snack foods; spread on sandwiches (with all the nut butter varieties available, you don’t need to get hung up on just traditional PB – try almond, cashew or hazelnut butter, just to name a few); crumbled to add flavor to salads or vegetable side dishes; mixed with grains to provide a taste accent; as a gluten-free crust for baked fish or chicken; substituted for sugary sprinkles to complement your favorite dessert; or even power-blended into your favorite smoothie. 


With all the health benefits, and the many ways available to enjoy them, there’s very little reason for most people not to go just a little bit nuts for nuts.

- See more at:


Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D.
Executive Director
International Tree Nut Council
Nutrition Research & Education Foundation
2413 Anza Avenue
Davis, CA  95616
Ph: 530-297-5895
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Tree nut consumption associated with lower body weight and lower risk of obesity

Published on June 30, 2015 at 1:05 PM • No Comments

In a study published this week in Nutrition Journal, researchers compared risk factors for heart disease and metabolic syndrome of tree nut consumers versus those who did not consume tree nuts. Tree nut (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts) consumption was associated with lower body mass index (p=0.004), systolic blood pressure (p=0.001), insulin resistance (p=0.043) and higher levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (good cholesterol) (p=0.022). In addition, tree nut consumers were 25% less likely to be obese and 21% less likely to have an elevated waist circumference than those who did not consume tree nuts.
The study looked at 14,386 men and women (19+ years) participating in the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES). Intake was from 24-hour recall data and tree nut consumers were defined as those who consumed ¼ ounce or more per day. "Approximately 6.8% of the study population consumed tree nuts," stated Carol O'Neil, PhD, MPH, RD, lead author on the paper and Professor at Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. "While that may sound small, it actually represents over 12 million individuals--a significant number." She added, "Those who consumed nuts ate about 1.5 ounces (44.3 grams) of tree nuts per day--similar to the amount recommended in the FDA qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease."
Research has shown that nuts can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome (MetS). The latter is a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and includes elevated blood lipids, blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin resistance and abdominal obesity. Obesity is also a risk factor for these two diseases and although tree nuts contain fat and calories, numerous studies have shown that diets "enriched with nuts" do not increase weight. Filled with plant protein, dietary fiber, and healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, tree nuts are a satiating food that may actually help suppress appetite. Moreover, previous research by the same authors, showed that tree nut consumption was associated with better nutrient adequacy for most nutrients that are lacking in the diets of many Americans, and with an overall better diet quality.
"Now that summer is here and people tend to be more active outside, tree nuts are a great, portable snack to take to camp, the beach or on a hike," states Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D., Executive Director of the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF). "Just 1.5 ounces of nuts per day (about 1/3 cup) can give you many of the important vitamins, minerals and energy you need throughout the day." Moreover, according to the 2011-2012 What We Eat in America/NHANES survey, snacks provided about 25% of daily calories. Choosing more nutrient-dense snacks, such as tree nuts, can have a positive impact on health.
Maureen Ternus, M.S., R.D.
Executive Director
International Tree Nut Council
Nutrition Research & Education Foundation
2413 Anza Avenue
Davis, CA  95616
Ph: 530-297-5895
We're now on social media! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest


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