almond choco CPG montage_THUMB.jpgManufacturers looking for heart-healthy toppings have one more option: almonds.

Almonds are now certified with the American Heart Association’s signature “Heart Check” mark, which identifies the nuts as a heart-healthy food based on their nutrient profile.

“Nutrition research has long supported the heart health benefits of almonds,” says Jenny Heap, health professional marketing manager for the Almond Board of California. “Now consumers will be able to more easily identify almonds in the supermarket as a heart-smart food.”

The Heart-Check mark is meant to help make it easier for shoppers to seek out and find heart-healthy foods, says the AHA.

“We know that consumers have relied on the American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark to easily identify heart-healthy foods for more than 15 years,” says Dr. Rachel Johnson, an American Heart Association spokeswoman. “Adding nuts, fish and other foods that are rich sources of good fats, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, enhances the program and gives more healthy options consumers can choose with the same trust factor.”

In order to qualify for the AHA Heart-Check mark, nuts (whole or chopped) must contain:

  • 4 g or less saturated fat per 50 g
  • Less than 0.5 g trans fat per Reference Amount Customarily Consumed (RACC) and per label serving
  • 0 mg cholesterol per label serving
  • 140 mg or less sodium per label serving
  • Less than 0.5 g added fats per RACC
  • Less than 1 g added carbohydrate per RACC
  • The amounts and sources of the added fats and carbohydrates must be disclosed

In addition, foods must contain 10% or more of the Daily Value for at least one beneficial nutrient such as protein or dietary fiber per RACC.

Per ounce, almonds provide 13 g of healthy unsaturated fat, only 1 g of saturated fat, and are naturally cholesterol-free. Almonds also contain protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin.

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— M.K.