Walnuts are one of the only sources of essential plant-based omega-3
March 2, 2023
California Walnuts is raising awareness of the health benefits associated with omega-3 alpha-linoleic acid while spotlighting the many ways that the versatility of walnuts can help increase the intake of omega-3 in the diet. Walnuts are the only tree nut that provide an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3, which research indicates may play a role in heart health, brain health and healthy aging.1-6 In fact, a 2022 study published in Advances in Nutrition found that given the accumulating evidence on omega-3 ALA and cardiovascular-related outcomes, food sources high in ALA should be included as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern.
While research continues to reinforce the many health benefits of walnuts, they are also an easy food to incorporate in the everyday diet, whether as an on-the-go snack or as part of a meal. They are delicious on their own, but also add great texture to salads, yogurt or baked goods. Walnuts can be a key ingredient in rich, satisfying spreads such as hummus, muhammara, pesto or walnut butter. Many consumers are not aware that walnuts also shine as a plant-based, center-of-the-plate ingredient. Finely chopped or ground walnuts blended with legumes or mushrooms can be used as a plant-based alternative to ground beef or poultry, in a variety of global dishes ranging from chicken recipes to California Walnut Muhammara to Apple Walnut Hand Pie. This ground walnut meat can also be frozen for easy, make-ahead meals that offer a simple way to meet the recommended omega-3 intake.
"To celebrate the power of omega-3, we are kicking off our fourth annual global month-long campaign on March 1, to highlight that walnuts are an incredibly functional and versatile food that makes omega-3 consumption tasty and easy for people of all ages," shares Robert Verloop, CEO of the California Walnut Commission. "Walnuts are the only nut and one of few foods that provide a rich source of omega-3. We want to inspire people to reap the health benefits of those omega-3s by enjoying walnuts in their daily snacks and meals. And, to keep your walnuts fresh at home, be sure to store them in the fridge or freezer."
California Walnuts' Power of 3 campaign features recipes, videos, social media content, digital advertising, instore promotions and more to inspire people around the world to enjoy the flavor, texture and nutritional benefits that walnuts bring to their lives. For more information about the benefits of California walnuts along with new global plant-forward recipe inspiration, visit californiawalnuts.ae/health-nutrition/power-of-3 and be sure to share your own walnut culinary creations on social using the hashtag: #PowerOfOmega3.
There's much to celebrate when it comes to plant-based Omega-3 ALA and heart health. A 2014 study from Advances in Nutrition found that ALA may help improve heart health just as we have seen in studies focused on EPA and DHA.1 Now, a 2022 paper has updated the evidence from that original paper and found that given the accumulating evidence on dietary ALA and cardiovascular-related outcomes, food sources high in ALA should be included as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern. The authors of the paper suggest that the evidence at this point does support current dietary guidance around ALA, which is set at intakes of 1.1 grams and 1.6 grams per day of ALA for women and men, respectively. As one of the best plant food sources of omega-3s, a handful of walnuts is an easy, versatile and tasty way to meet daily ALA recommendations (2.5 grams of ALA is provided in a one-ounce serving of walnuts). Additionally, a 2021 BMJ systematic review and meta-analysis found that ALA intakes between 1 and 2.5 grams per day were best for the prevention of heart disease, and every 1-gram increase of ALA was linked with a 5% decrease in death from all causes and from cardiovascular disease.
A review study from Progress in Lipid Research assessed the tissue levels of omega-3 DHA formed from ALA. They reported several important findings, first was that ALA leads to the synthesis of EPA in some cases, and in particular, may contribute to DHA levels in the brain. Evidence from a variety of studies suggests dietary ALA may be able to fulfill the human requirement for DHA in the body when higher levels of ALA (at least 1.2 grams) are consumed. Assessing the synthesis of EPA and DHA from ALA in humans is limited to blood level measurements. The takeaway from this study is that through its conversion process, ALA may play a role in maintaining DHA levels in important tissues such as the brain. More research is needed to fully understand the effect of this process in the body.
A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (2020) looked at regular consumption of foods rich in marine or plant-based omega-3s and risk of death among individuals who have suffered a heart attack. In addition, research from one of the largest clinical trials looking at the benefits of a Mediterranean diet suggested older Spanish individuals (ages 55-80) with a high cardiac risk who supplemented a high fish diet with dietary ALA saw a reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Specifically, study participants who consumed at least 0.7% of their daily calorie intake from ALA had a 28% reduced risk of all-cause mortality.
More than 99% of the walnuts grown in the United States are from California, produced by multi-generational farmers encompassing 4,000 family orchards. California walnuts, known for their excellent nutritional value and quality, are shipped around the world all year long. With the focus on plant-forward eating, walnuts are enjoyed in a variety of innovative and delicious ways, such as a plant-based meat alternative, walnut milk and walnut butter. They are recognized as a versatile and nutritious snack, a topper for yogurt and oatmeal, and the perfect nut to pair with salads and vegetables.