- Nuts have recently soared in popularity, shedding their "unhealthy" reputation due to high saturated fat content and becoming a nutritional mainstay for better-for-you products, according to Baking Business.
- Nuts are a grain alternative for many gluten-free or dairy-free products, such as in gluten-free nut flours and dairy-free nut milks.
- Nuts are also a common better-for-you snack food, either by themselves or in combination with other salty or sweet ingredients in convenient, portable forms.
While many dietitians have long considered nuts to be a healthier food, federal nutrition guidelines warned against nut consumption due to their relatively high levels of saturated fat. Perceptions of saturated fat have changed significantly since more recent research has disproved long-held theories demonizing all types of fats.
Recent reports also claim that the sugar industry funded some of the studies that demonized fat in the first place — studies on which regulatory agencies based their nutritional guidelines. Now that sugar is a top concern for many consumers, fatty products, from nuts to bone marrow, have surged in popularity.
Another impetus for the nut category's transformation was Kind snack bars' pushback against the U.S. Food and drug Administration. The agency sent Kind a warning letter due to the brand's use of the term "healthy" on its labels, though those products exceeded the maximum fat levels allowed for a product to bear that claim.
After Kind's efforts to point out that the definition of "healthy" was now outdated, the FDA reconsidered the term's definition and recently released draft guidance to the benefit of manufacturers that produce or use nuts in their products.