Scheduled to be published later this year, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are expected to include recommendations for increased consumption of plant proteins. This includes nuts and seeds, which vary significantly in nutrient composition, with macadamias on the low end at around 9 percent protein and almonds on the upper end at 30 percent protein. In between you will find the increasingly popular chia seed at about 16 percent protein.
But it’s not so much the protein that formulators consider when developing foods with nuts and seeds; rather, it’s their fatty acid profile. That’s because nuts and seeds that have at least twice as much polyunsaturated fatty acids as saturated fatty acids and have been shown to help lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or the bad cholesterol, in the bloodstream.
According to data from USDA's Agriculture Nutrient Database, all of the five most popular ingredient seeds — chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower — meet this criteria. However, there is no approved health claim directly associated with their consumption.
On the other hand, since 2003, FDA has allowed almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts and foods containing these nuts to make the following health claim: "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5-oz. per day of most nuts [such as name of specific nut] as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."
Nuts and Seeds Product Picks
A Spoonful of Simplicity
In today’s food landscape, people are seeking wholesome foods that are simply prepared, the way foods used to be. That’s what you get with new Kellogg’s Origins, a return to simplicity. Developed by Kellogg Co., Origins is a collection of six new items including flake-based cereals, granolas and mueslis that combine simple ingredients such as nuts, seeds, fruits and ancient grains, including quinoa and Kamut khorasan wheat. For the line’s launch, the company partnered with celebrated chef and blogger Gaby Dalkin, who says, “My cooking style is deeply rooted in my European heritage. Kellogg’s Origins combines many of the ingredients, flavors and textures I grew up loving in one spoonful. It’s a reminder that the greatest tastes and trends can come from the simplest places.”
Nutty Snack Bites
John B. Sanfilippo & Son Inc. introduces Fisher Nut Exactly Snack Bites. The company combines roasted nuts and whole grain popcorn into bite-sized pieces that get dipped in a sweet topping. The four varieties are: Almond Popcorn Dipped in Milk Chocolate, Almond Popcorn Dipped in Dark Chocolate, Pecan Popcorn Dipped in Salted Caramel and Peanut Popcorn Dipped in Peanut Butter. There’s also a fruity version: Almond Blueberry in Dark Chocolate. Designed for sharing, the treats comes in multi-serving 5-oz. recloseable bags. “At 15-16 calories per snack bite and no artificial preservatives, Nut Exactly makes smart snacking easy and fun for consumers,” says Howard Brandeisky, senior vice president-global marketing and customer solutions.
Functional Health Salad Kits
Nuts are prevalent in Fresh Express' Functional Health Salad Kits in three nutritionally focused formulations. The Heart Health Kit includes heart-healthy ingredients such as spinach, kale, beet tops, shredded broccoli, shredded carrots, dried cranberries and sliced almonds with basil balsamic vinaigrette. The Antioxidant Kit uses ingredients high in vitamins C and E to assist the body in maintaining cell and tissue health. This blend includes spinach, baby kale, red cabbage, shredded carrots, feta cheese, sunflower kernels and dried blueberries with pomegranate blueberry vinaigrette. The Digestive Health Kit emphasizes fiber by featuring a flavorful mix of spinach, baby kale, pak choi, beet tops, shredded carrots, dates, sliced almonds and flaxseed with a sesame ginger dressing.