Orchard Origins

February is American Heart Month, an opportune time for walnuts to be at the forefront of people’s minds and the top of their grocery lists since walnuts are a certified heart-healthy1 food by the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Heart-Check* program. AHA consumer data shows that the Heart-Check mark has the highest purchase intent rating amongst commonly used front-of-pack labels. The Heart-Check mark is highly motivational to walnut consumers, with 7 out of 10 saying they are more likely to buy a food product containing walnuts if it has the mark. Given that the heart health benefits of walnuts are a top reason why consumers eat walnuts, February is a perfect time for the walnut industry to make an impact with consumers. 

With this year’s budget cuts, there is no longer a national in-store display program; however, the walnut industry is still doing more together to ensure California walnuts will be top of mind with consumers throughout American Heart Month:

  • Online Grocery Shopping Ads: Investing in digital promotion through online grocery shopping platforms including Amazon, Instacart, Kroger, Costco, Sam’s Club and Walmart. The program is concentrated around heart month, with ads driving consumer purchase by showing ways to do more with walnuts.
  • In-Store Promotions to Help Drive Sales: Activating retail dietitian programs at Coborn’s 30 stores and in-store at 390 Stop & Shop locations, where California walnuts will be integrated into a mix of in-store displays, social media promotions, and/or e-commerce communications to encourage purchase. Additionally, working with retail dietitians across the country sharing samples and educational resources to drive in-store and virtual engagements featuring walnuts as a heart-healthy2 choice.

Health Expert Media Stories: Partnering with nationally recognized food, nutrition, and wellness expert Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, to conduct a satellite media tour. In top TV and radio markets across the country, Samantha will highlight the latest heart health research and nutrition benefits supporting walnut consumption with a focus on walnuts as the only nut with an excellent source of the plant-based omega-3 ALA (2.5g/oz), an essential fatty acid that may play a role in heart health.3 She’ll also post on Instagram to drive her followers to do more with walnuts.

  • Additional Brand Ambassadors like Lauren Manaker, MS, RD, have written articles on heart health throughout the month.
  • Heart Health Content Hub on Website: Inspiring visitors to walnuts.org to do more with walnuts with a collection of American Heart Association® Heart-Check Mark Certified recipes and a heart-healthy recipe roundup blog article including recipes, nutrition information, simple tips, and more. Content will be shared across digital and social platforms, including the consumer e-newsletter, to maximize reach.
  • New Walnut Recipes to Inspire Usage: Partnering with trending social media food blogger Yumna Jawad of @FeelGoodFoodie. Yumna will develop recipes to inspire home chefs to do more with walnuts in the kitchen and share them with her Instagram audience of over 3 million consumer followers.
  • Health Influencer Education: Reaching out to media RDs, food and nutrition writers, and wellness and lifestyle reporters sharing the latest heart health research and ideas on how people can incorporate more walnuts into their everyday life.

“American Heart Month is a perfect time to put a spotlight on walnuts due to their FDA health claim on cardiovascular health as well as the Heart-Check mark. That wouldn’t be possible without decades of scientific research supported by the California walnut industry that continues to uncover benefits for cardiovascular health,” said Jennifer Olmstead, Senior Director of U.S. Marketing at California Walnut Board and Commission. “Research on the benefits of walnuts builds the credibility of walnuts as a nutrient-rich food among health professionals who strongly influence consumer dietary choices and gives our consumers a science-based reason to put walnuts in their shopping cart.”

Through this research, the California walnut industry continues to build the evidence around why walnuts are such an important food to consume daily in support of optimal health. A recent study by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that participants who ate a handful of walnuts (five or more 1-ounce servings) per week had a 14% lower risk of death (from any cause), 25% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases, and a gain of about 1.3 years of life expectancy compared to participants who reported no walnut consumption.4

Olmstead added, “Research like this appeals to top-tier media read by our target consumer audience, once again giving them another reason to eat more walnuts.”

*Heart-Check certification does not apply to research

  1. 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. One ounce of walnuts provides 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.
  2. World Health Organization. (2021, June 11). Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) Key Facts. https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/cardiovascular-diseases-(cvds)
  3. Fleming JA, Kris-Etherton PM. The evidence for α-linolenic acid and cardiovascular disease benefits: comparisons with eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. Adv Nutr. 2014;5(6):863S-76S. doi: 10.3945/an.114.005850.  
  4. Liu X, Guasch-Ferré M, Tobias DK, Li Y. Association of Walnut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality and Life Expectancy in U.S. Adults. Nutrients. 2021; 13(8):2699. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13082699


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