Studies link nuts to a lower incidence of heart attacks and Alzheimer’s.
After so many years of being disparaged as “bad” foods, nuts are garnering national attention as a tool in maintaining overall health. Nuts are being credited with helping to lower the risk of heart attacks, maintaining young, elastic skin and reducing the risk of Alzheimer's.

In recent years, studies have shown that high levels of saturated fats are a key risk in heart disease. Tree nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans and walnuts, have no cholesterol and are high in unsaturated (“good”) fats; they help reduce LDL and total cholesterol levels. One healthy fat, linolenic acid, is an example of an unsaturated fat that helps maintain good heart health.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated that men who ate one ounce of nuts at least twice a week lowered their risk of sudden cardiac health by 47%; furthermore, they lowered their risk of coronary heart disease death by 30%, when compared to men who ate no nuts at all.

The antioxidant vitamin E has been tied to preventing heart disease, certain forms of cancer and the formation of cataracts. Vitamin E also contributes to the elasticity of the skin, helping to maintain a youthful appearance. Almonds are one of the best whole food sources of this vitamin in the D-alpha tocopherol form. In a recent Chicago-based study focusing on Alzheimer's in patients 65 and older, those who ingested the highest number of foods rich in vitamin E lowered their risk of developing the disease by 70%—whole foods were used, but not supplements. -J.M. Gallo-Torres

Hazelnuts add rich flavor and crunch to confections, baked goods, cereals and dairy products. Available in many forms from kernels to sliced, diced, paste, butter and meal, hazelnuts will contribute culinary distinction and nutrition in an exciting array of applications. Hazelnut Marketing Board, Polly Owen, 503-678-6823, hazelnut@oregonhazelnuts.org

California almonds add crunch, consumer appeal and perceived added value to a broad range of product applications. Almonds can also add protein, the minerals calcium and magnesium, are cholesterol-free, and are an excellent source of the important antioxidant vitamin E. Almond Board of California, 209-549-8262, staff@almondboard.com, www.almondsarein.com

A major breakthrough in seasoning technology for flavored and sliced almonds has been developed by Paramount Farms. From Maple Brown Sugar and Swiss Mocha to Garlic Teriyaki and Tangy Ranch, formulators can choose from a variety of sweet and savory flavor profiles. Or, the company can help you create your own. Great for toppings on muffins or breads, packaged salad garnishes, stir-fry kits and snack mixes. Paramount Farms, 800-246-6887, custserv@paramountfarms.com. www.paramountfarms.com

One of the largest shippers of in-shell almonds, Golden West Nuts Inc. is a grower, processor and shipper of California almonds. The company offers natural and blanched forms of whole, sliced, slivered and diced almonds. For almond application ideas and recent nutritional research on the health benefits of almonds, visit the “All About Almonds” section of the company's website at www.goldenwestnuts.com. Golden West Nuts Inc., Steve Gikas, 209-599-6193, steve@goldenwestnuts.com