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Hooray for Heart Health

It’s a heart-filled month in February! Not only is it Valentine's Day and Heart Health Month, it also includes Almond Day, celebrated each year on February 16. Read on for more reasons to "heart" February.

12/16/2020

Love Your Heart

The Almond Board just commemorated 25 years of nutrition research, and it all began with this study on heart health.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that heart disease remains the #1 cause of death in the US and unfortunately, continues to rise year over year. There is some good news though: according to AHA, a large proportion of cardiovascular disease is attributable to dietary risks. And, data from AHA’s Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2020 Update noted improvement in the mean AHA healthy diet score. These improvements are largely attributed to increased consumption of whole grains, nuts (such as almonds), seeds and legumes, as well as decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Read on for ideas to promote heart healthy eating to your shoppers this February. You’ll find a savory snack mix recipe, heart health and snack handouts to download, talking points and copy to use in your store materials, and a summary of a recent study that investigated the effect of almonds on markers of vascular health. Happy Heart Health Month!

RECIPE: Party in A Bag

Your shoppers will love this crunchable, munchable snack recipe. For more delicious recipes, visit our Recipe Center.

PARTY IN A BAG

Sample Post:  Did someone say PARTY?! Even if it’s just you and the fam celebrating, you’ll love this crunchy #almond snack mix. With 3 grams of fiber and 8 grams of plant protein per serving, what’s not to love?

Talking Points: Heart Smart Eating Tips

Use these talking points for virtual store events or in your media appearances as a starter for talking weight management:

  • The foods you choose to eat can make a difference in your heart health. The American Heart Association says that a large proportion of cardiovascular disease is attributable to dietary risks.
  • This Heart Health Month, commit to your heart smart journey by making just a few small changes.
  • Control your portion size. What you eat is as important as how much you eat.
  • Increase your fruits and veggies. Add berries to your oatmeal of yogurt at breakfast, slip lettuce and tomato into your sandwich at lunch, and fill half your plate with veggies and fruit at dinner.
  • Keep healthy non-perishable snacks at the ready, like almonds, ready for when hunger strikes. A handful of almonds provides 6 grams of plant protein, 4 grams of filling fiber and an array of vitamins and minerals.
  • Focus on fat by choosing unsaturated options – monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats -  as much as possible. You can find these types of fat in plant foods like avocados, almonds, and olive or canola oils. One serving of almonds (28g) provides 13g of unsaturated fat and only 1g of saturated fat.
  • Limit saturated fat in your diet to no more than 10% of calories. Select lean cuts of beef and pork, skip frying by broiling, grilling or baking meats instead, and use reduced or fat-free dairy foods instead of whole milk products.

COPY THAT: Newsletter/Circular Copy

Include this tip in your store blog, newsletter or circular:

Trying to eat healthier for your heart? Try these tips for smart snacking:

  • Fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are healthy snacks that offer fiber along with an array of vitamins and minerals. 
  • Keeping a bowl of fruit out on the counter, cut-up veggies with low-fat dip in the fridge, and seeds and nuts, such as almonds, in the pantry provides you with all the fixings for healthy snacking when hunger strikes. 

Talk to a registered dietitian to learn about other ways you can make changes to your diet that last. <add info on how to schedule telehealth visits with store dietitians if available in your stores>

RESEARCH UPDATE: Study Investigates the Effect of Almonds on Vascular Health

For decades, researchers have investigated how eating almonds promotes heart health and now, there’s a novel discovery related to almond benefits.  In a recently published study1 in UK adults, snacking on almonds helped improve flow-mediated dilation (FMD), which is a key indicator of vascular health.  In addition, consuming almonds instead of a usual snack also lowered LDL-cholesterol in this group, which is consistent with previous research findings on almonds.  The study was funded by the Almond Board of California.

In this a 6-week trial at Kings College in London,  107 British adults between the ages of 30 and 70 years, all with above average cardiovascular disease risk, consumed almonds or a calorie-matched control snack providing 20% of each participants’ estimated daily energy needs.  The research team then compared cardiometabolic health markers between the two groups. 

They found that the almond group, compared to the control group, experienced a 4% unit increase in endothelium-dependent vasodilation. Endothelial function – assessed by measuring flow-mediated dilation (FMD) – is a key factor in the development and progression of atherosclerosis. Improved FMD means that arteries can dilate more easily in response to increased blood flow, which is a strong indicator of cardiovascular health. 

Additionally, LDL-cholesterol levels decreased in the almond group relative to the control group.  There was no difference between the two groups in liver fat and several other measures (triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, glucose, insulin and others). 

“This study showed that in this group of UK adults with increased CVD risk, eating almonds in place of the typical snacks that many of us consume in the UK was beneficial to  heart health. Those in the almond group saw reduced LDL-cholesterol levels and improved flow-mediated dilation, a measure of arterial health. Based on existing data on risk of cardiovascular disease, we predict that replacing typical snacks with almonds in the long term has the potential to reduce the adjusted relative risk of a cardiovascular event by 30%,” said Dr. Wendy Hall, PhD, co-principal investigator and Reader in Nutritional Sciences at King’s College London. Adjusted relative risk is the probability of an event happening to a person compared to another person who does not take a step in disease prevention, such as making a diet change.

Limitations of the study were the fact that there were some differences between groups in cardiometabolic disease risk factors at baseline.  The imbalance in recruitment by sex could mean that the results may not be as applicable to men since they made up only 30% of the randomized study population. Also, the participants were free-living, and although almond compliance was confirmed, it is possible there is potential for some inaccuracies in their reported food intake.  Click here to view the full study.

Resources to the Rescue

We have what you need to help your shoppers learn more about making healthy food choices for their heart with our Take these Tips to Heart and Snacking Just Got Smarter handouts.

Take These Tips to Heart  

Snacking Just Got Smarter

 

1. Dikariyanto  V, Smith L, Francis L et al. Snacking on whole almonds for 6 weeks improves endothelial function and lowers LDL cholesterol but does not affect liver fat and other cardiometabolic risk factors in healthy adults: the ATTIS study, a randomized controlled trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 111(6): 1178–1189.

https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqaa100