Through investment in health research, the California Walnut Commission (CWC) drives consumer demand by keeping walnuts and their health benefits top of mind with consumers and health professionals. This is accomplished in three important ways: Gives more science-based reasons for consumers to eat walnuts, especially in top topics of nutrition interest; builds on the credibility of walnuts as a nutrient-rich food among health professionals who strongly influence consumer dietary choices; and appeals to top-tier media read by consumers.
“The first 15 years of research in heart health led to walnuts’ qualified health claim* with the FDA and being the first nut certified with the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark, which we’re proud of, but we couldn’t stop there. Our mission to further the science on the health benefits of eating walnuts continues to lead us in our research,” said Jennifer Olmstead, senior director of U.S. marketing and communication with the California Walnut Commission.
With each new study, consumers have more reasons to add walnuts to their grocery cart, and reporters have a timely reason to include walnuts in a news story. Two long-term studies published in 2021 linked walnuts with life longevity and cardiovascular health. Investing in the research and sharing the findings also allows the CWC to build and nurture relationships with registered dietitians and health reporters.
“Positive results to the health research brings additional media attention to walnuts and builds awareness to the proven health benefits,” said Olmstead.
A study led by Yanping Li, Senior Research Scientist at the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that higher walnut consumption, both in terms of the amount and frequency, may be associated with a lower risk of death and an increase in life expectancy among older adults in the U.S. compared to those who do not consume walnuts.
This study, supported by the California Walnut Commission, found eating five or more servings of walnuts per week (one serving = one ounce) may provide the greatest benefit for mortality risk and life expectancy. Eating five or more servings per week was associated with a 14% lower risk of death (from any cause), 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases and a gain in about 1.3 years of life expectancy, compared to those who didn’t consume walnuts.
Popular consumer sites and food trade publications shared headlines like Verywell Health’s “Eating More Walnuts Could Help You Live Longer,” Martha Stewart’s “Eating Walnuts Could Lead to a Longer Life, a New Study Says” and Food Navigators’ “Walnut consumption linked to improved life expectancy.” Ultimately, news of the studies’ findings garnered more than two billion impressions, with more than 300 international articles covering the study, generating a total of 702,843,291 impressions.
Another study that published in August 2021 found an association between regular daily walnut consumption and sustained lower levels of cholesterol among 708 healthy older adults who included walnuts as part of their diet for four years. The findings again reinforced the notion that regular walnut consumption may be a useful part of a heart-healthy eating pattern.
Hundreds of millions of people saw news reports touting “Want Better Heart Health? Consume Walnuts!” or “Eat a Handful of Walnuts Daily to Protect Your Heart and Stay Slim,” including a captive audience of more than two million viewers watching Good Morning America.
Articles from health studies result in millions of consumers having a deeper understanding of the benefits walnuts provide, including how they can help you live a healthier life.
*Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (FDA). One ounce of walnuts offers 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.