Walnuts Rank High on New Nutrition Scales

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 General News
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FOLSOM, Calif., Feb. 20 The following is a statement byDennis Balint, CEO of California Walnut Commission: Given the state of thenational waistline, the need for better consumer understanding of healthy foodchoices is clear. We welcome new independent nutrition rating systems thatwill soon appear in grocery stores and on packaging. While some fear that thiswill 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 theIndex of Nutritional Quality (INQ) nutrient testing system at the FoodConsulting Company of Del Mar, California(i) According to Karen Duester, MS,RD who conducted the test, "Not surprisingly, walnuts ranked highest among thenuts in INQ. Because INQ relates to nutrient density, we looked at specificnutrients 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 received82 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 nutritionand the principal inventor for the ONQI system, "When overall nutritionalquality is assessed, the verdict is clear: walnuts are a great food -- theypack a lot of nutrient benefits in a nutshell!"

Guiding Stars(iv), a nutrition navigation tool, was designed to make iteasy for shoppers to quickly identify nutritious food choices. JeffreyBlumberg, PhD, professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts Universityand a member of the Hannaford Scientific Advisory Panel explains, "Walnuts area whole food rich in antioxidants, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essentialomega-3 fatty acid, protein, fiber, and more. Whole walnuts receive the 'bestnutritional value' three star ranking (the highest) due to their nutrientprofile." Guiding Stars, developed by the Hannaford Bros. grocery chain, asubsidiary of Delhaize America, is also being used by the company's SweetbaySupermarkets.

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

15 years of clinical research on walnuts have shown benefits for theheart, and we're not just talking about cholesterol reduction -- improvedvascular function and a reduction in inflammation have also beendocumented.(vii-xii) Looking to the future and expanding on this base ofknowledge, research is underway at a variety of prestigious universitieslooking into cancer, diabetes and issues of aging.

We are pleased with these new nutrient ranking approaches and believeconsumers will be the ultimate winners when these consumer-friendly symbolsappear in markets nationally.

(iv)(i) http://www.foodlabels.com/ (ii) http://www.griffinhealth.org/Research/ONQI.asp (iii) (Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20080220/AQW057-a)

SOURCE California Walnut Commission

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