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Walnuts Rank High on New Nutrition Scales

New Measures Add Understanding Not Confusion

FOLSOM, Calif., Feb. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Dennis Balint, CEO of California Walnut Commission: Given the state of the national waistline, the need for better consumer understanding of healthy food choices is clear. We welcome new independent nutrition rating systems that will soon appear in grocery stores and on packaging. While some fear that this will be confusing, our research says that people want more information, presented in a simple, easy-to-understand format.

Walnuts and other tree nuts and peanuts were recently ranked using the Index of Nutritional Quality (INQ) nutrient testing system at the Food Consulting Company of Del Mar, California(i) According to Karen Duester, MS, RD who conducted the test, "Not surprisingly, walnuts ranked highest among the nuts in INQ. Because INQ relates to nutrient density, we looked at specific nutrients known to be abundant in nuts and peanuts: protein, fiber, omega-3, omega-6, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, and zinc."

On another independent scale, the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI) (ii) ranking system to be used by the Raley's grocery chain, walnuts received 82 points on a 100 point scale, an excellent score among foods and nuts(iii). According to David Katz, MD, MPH a nationally renowned authority on nutrition and the principal inventor for the ONQI system, "When overall nutritional quality is assessed, the verdict is clear: walnuts are a great food -- they pack a lot of nutrient benefits in a nutshell!"

Guiding Stars(iv), a nutrition navigation tool, was designed to make it easy for shoppers to quickly identify nutritious food choices. Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University and a member of the Hannaford Scientific Advisory Panel explains, "Walnuts are a whole food rich in antioxidants, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential omega-3 fatty acid, protein, fiber, and more. Whole walnuts receive the 'best nutritional value' three star ranking (the highest) due to their nutrient profile." Guiding Stars, developed by the Hannaford Bros. grocery chain, a subsidiary of Delhaize America, is also being used by the company's Sweetbay Supermarkets.

Is this confusing? We think the consumer will understand that all of this adds up to high marks and better guidance when choosing foods for a nutritious diet. While every whole food is different, walnuts have qualities that are very important. One of the richest sources of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), the plant form of Omega-3, walnuts are unique among nuts and popular whole foods.(v) A one ounce serving of walnuts provides 2.57 grams of ALA, the plant form omega-3s, which is above the dietary reference intake (DRI) set by the National Academies' Institute of Medicine. Walnuts are also one of the highest natural sources of antioxidants, according to Halvorsen's study from American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006.(vi)

15 years of clinical research on walnuts have shown benefits for the heart, and we're not just talking about cholesterol reduction -- improved vascular function and a reduction in inflammation have also been documented.(vii-xii) Looking to the future and expanding on this base of knowledge, research is underway at a variety of prestigious universities looking into cancer, diabetes and issues of aging.

We are pleased with these new nutrient ranking approaches and believe consumers will be the ultimate winners when these consumer-friendly symbols appear in markets nationally.



(iii) (Photo:


(v) (Photo:

(vi) Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jul;84(1):95-135.


(vii) "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating

1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and

low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake

may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

(viii) Circulation. 2002 Nov 19;106(21):2747-57

(ix) Hypertension. 2007 Aug;50(2):313-9

(x) J Am Coll Cardiol. 2006 Oct 17;48(8):1666-71

(xi) Arch Intern Med. 2007 Jun 11;167(11):1195-203

(xii) Ann Intern Med. 2006 Jul 4;145(1):1-11

SOURCE California Walnut Commission
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