The California Walnut Board and the California Walnut Commission represent nearly 100 handlers and over 4,800 growers spread across California’s Central Valley, where over 99% of the walnuts in U.S. are grown. For more than 25 years and in 164 published studies, researchers have investigated the role of walnuts in areas from heart health to weight management, cognition and more.
Today, some consumers are still under the misperception that plant-based diets fall short when it comes to getting adequate nutrients like protein (IFIC 2019). However, scientific research continues to support consumption of more plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts (like walnuts), seeds and beans, as part of a healthy eating plan that offers a spectrum of potential health benefits. In fact, choosing more plant-based foods can result in a higher intake of key nutrients that are recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans like calcium, dietary fiber and good fats (HHS & USDA 2015). Walnuts are a staple in a plant-based eating plan because they deliver protein (4g/oz), fiber (2g/oz) and the essential omega-3 ALA (2.5g/oz). Plus, they can be used in a variety of plant-based dishes like tacos, meatloaf, grain bowls and salads.
While plant-based eating has been popularized over the years – nearly three-quarters of consumers say they have heard of plant-based diets and half are interested in learning more – many people associate “plant-based” with an entirely vegan diet (IFIC 2019). This eating style doesn’t necessarily mean vegan or vegetarian – it’s just about eating more plant-based foods. For many consumers, switching to a plant-based diet is about knowing how plant-based dishes can be just as satisfying as comparable meat-based dishes due to a higher amount of fiber and good fats.
Try focusing on small but meaningful steps to move your clients in a plant-forward direction. Here are a couple ideas to get started.
Plant-Powered Meal Prep
Planning and preparing nutritious meals can have a huge impact on performance, concentration and overall well-being. A balanced breakfast can power clients through a morning workout, a nutritious lunch can help push past the midday slump and a satisfying dinner can replenish after a long day. Survey stats show almost half of American adults don’t plan what they’re going to eat for the week, but those who do pack ahead are more likely to eat healthfully, including foods like fruits, vegetables and nuts (Edelman 2019).
With a little inspiration and guidance, clients can use meal prep as a positive step in a plant-forward direction. For instance, suggest preparing a batch of toasted walnuts to use as a topping on salads and bowls or Banana Bread Overnight Oats for an easy breakfast throughout the week. This free educational resource includes more simple strategies, tips and tricks, nutritious recipes and a plant-based shopping list to get them started today.
Go Nuts for Plant Protein
Remind clients that incorporating plant proteins is not all-or-nothing. Walnuts are an example of a versatile ingredient that can be used to weave more plant proteins into the diet in a flexible and delicious way. Encourage clients to get creative with their favorite recipes, mixing and matching walnuts with beans, seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs and dairy for a satisfying, balanced plate. This Walnut “Chorizo” Crumble combines walnuts, black beans and spices for a satisfying blend that can be used in tacos or on top of a grain bowl, and this salmon filet uses chopped walnuts for a crunchy crust.
For more recipes, health research and education resources, visit walnuts.org.
IFIC (International Food Information Council). 2019. 2019 food and health survey. https://foodinsight.org/2019-food-and-health-survey/
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). 2015. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (8th Ed.) http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/
Edelman. 2019. California Walnuts Lunchtime Revival Survey of 1,002 Americans 18+.