Celebrate World Heart Day with Almonds

Posted September 29th, 2014

Did you know that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death, claiming 17.3 million lives each year? And yet, at least 80% of premature deaths from cardiovascular disease can be avoided if diet and lifestyle risk factors are controlled.

In celebration of World Heart Day on September 29, the Almond Board of California has new nutrition research and heart health resources to help inspire individuals and communities to make heart-healthy choices wherever they live, work and play.

A randomized, controlled clinical study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that for 27 adults with elevated LDL cholesterol, every one ounce per day increase in intake of almonds, there was a 3.5 percent reduction in the estimated 10-year risk of heart disease. What’s more, over the four week study, eating almonds in place of a high-carbohydrate snack actually changed the composition of triglycerides and other blood lipids so that they contained more monounsaturated and less saturated fat, an important factor in managing heart disease risk.

This study and World Heart Day’s date both coincide with a significant event in the heart of California’s Central Valley—the almond harvest. The shakers and sweepers are in full swing, so it’s the perfect time to share the heartfelt passion that almond growers bring for responsible, sustainable farming.

While almonds provide us delicious and crunchy nutrition, the more than 6,500 almond growers have been researching and implementing sustainable agricultural practices for decades. 1,2 

Growing Up Sustainable

Nearly 90 percent of California almond farms are family farms, many operated  by third and fourth generation family farmers who plan to pass down their land and way of life to their children and grandchildren.2 These growers recognize the need to carefully manage resources for current and future generations, and have created progressive practices to support the success and safety of the crop.

The California Almond Sustainability Program

In an effort to stay on the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture practices, California almond growers and handlers together formed The California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) in 2009. CASP studies the ongoing sustainability practices of growers related to water issues, air quality, energy usage, and land management issues, such as past management and bee health.

Water Matters 

For more than 30 years, the Almond Board, has been researching and implementing techniques to make the most of our precious water resources. State-of-the-art farming and production developments over the past two decades have helped almond growers reduce the amount of water they use per pound of almonds grown by 33 percent.3 

What’s more, between 1967 and 2010 farm revenue in California grew by more than 88 percent while the total applied water-use to crops was reduced by 20 percent.4

Carbon Footprint

The Almond Board of California is currently working with the University of California – Davis on a Life Cycle Assessment to look at the greenhouse gas and energy footprint of almond production, from nursery to hulled and shelled almonds, during a typical 25-year lifespan of an orchard.

Currently in its first phase, the study has already discovered an important fact: Optimal almond production can potentially be carbon neutral or even carbon negative.5  This relies primarily on the waste efficiency of the crop.

Minimal Waste

Almond trees, and the water used to grow them, actually produce not only almonds but also almond hulls, which are used to feed livestock, reducing the amount of land and water that would otherwise be used to grow feed crops like hay. There are also the shells of the almond, which are used as livestock bedding and alternative energy in co-generation plants.

That’s a lot of heart in one little nut, and that’s just a taste: Click here for more on sustainable almond industry practices and contact us if you have questions.

Of course, don’t forget our Heart Health resourcesRecipe Center  and 20 Delicious Ways to Use Almonds guide for fresh ideas on how to make almonds a delicious, heart-smart part of every day.  


1 For the Almond Board of California, sustainable almond farming utilizes production practices that are economically viable and are based upon scientific research, common sense and a respect for the environment, neighbors and employees. The result is a plentiful, nutritious, safe food product.
2 2007 USDA Agricultural Census
http://www.agcensus.usda.gov/Publications/2007/
3 UC Drought Management – Historical Almond ET, see and Goldhamer, David. 2012. Almond in Group Yield Response to Water. FAO irrigation and Drainage Paper No. 65, P. Steduto, T.C. Hsiao, E. Fereres, and D. Raes, eds. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, pp. 246-296.
4 California Department of Food and Agriculture – Water and the California Farmer 
5 University of California – Davis. Greenhouse Gas and Energy Footprint (Life Cycle Assessment) of California Almond Production Report. 24pp.