Americans Are Nuts About Almonds
Nutrition and health benefits have helped make almonds the nation’s new favorite nut, with sales topping shelled and unshelled snack peanuts (not counting peanut butter). Annual almond consumption has soared from about 4 ounces per capita in the 1970s to more than 32 ounces. Driving the trend, analysts say, are studies linking almond consumption to cardiovascular and other health benefits. At the same time, Americans are realizing that the mostly unsaturated fats in nuts are not to be avoided, and seeking alternative protein sources: Red-meat consumption is down, and more than 3% of US adults say they are vegetarians.
“Research substantiating the benefits of almonds continues to grow, along with that of other tree nuts,” says Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, director of Tufts’ HNRCA Antioxidants Research Laboratory. “Most people eat nut mixes rather than a single nut, so it is interesting to note that the largest and longest clinical trial to date, the PREDIMED Study with more than 7,000 people followed for over five years, tested a one-ounce mix of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts daily and found it reduced the risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality.”