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If you’re like most people, you probably always thought almonds were healthy. But until this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not allow almonds to be called “healthy” on food labels, due to the agency’s regulatory definition of the term that considered a food’s total fat content, rather than distinguishing among different types of fat.

As of September 27, 2016, that’s changed, and almonds can officially declare that they are a healthy food!

As we reported in a previous blog post, the FDA announced in May 2016 its intention to re-evaluate its definition of the term “healthy”  and this week, the agency unveiled a new interim definition for the term “healthy” while it begins the public regulatory process.

The new criteria for “healthy” are that:

  • Foods must meet the “low fat” requirement (<3 g fat per serving) or total fat per serving must be primarily comprised of mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Mono- and polyunsaturated fat content must be declared on the Nutrition Facts Panel.
  • Foods must contain at least 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, protein, fiber, potassium or vitamin D. If using potassium or vitamin D to substantiate, the amount per serving must be declared on the label.

Almonds meet FDA’s new guidance as they contain predominantly “good” monounsaturated fats and 14 percent of the Daily Value for fiber.  A one-ounce serving of almonds contains 14 grams of total fat, of which 9 grams are monounsaturated fat and 3.5 grams are polyunsaturated fat (another “good” type of fat), along with 4 grams of fiber.*

Nutrition science has evolved throughout the years, particularly regarding fat and the role of different types of fat in our diet. FDA said that the purpose of revising the “healthy” criteria is to bring the use of the claim more in line with the nutrition science reflected in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the updated Nutrition Fact Label.

We’re thrilled that almonds can be officially recognized as what they’ve already been to us and to many–a healthy food!

*Good news about almonds and heart health. Scientific evidence suggests, but does not prove, that eating 1.5 ounces of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease. One serving on almonds (28g) has 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.