California walnuts are expanding their reach beyond the baking aisle and into the snacking category, produce department (yes, walnuts are produce too!) and in food and beverage products ranging from ice creams and baked goods to plant-based meats and spreads.
There’s never been a better time to formulate with California walnuts. Here’s why:
Favorable pricing: A combination of factors, including logistical export challenges, has created favorable pricing for food and beverage manufacturers.
Health information: Walnuts will soon meet the criteria for a “healthy” food according to the Food and Drug Administration’s new proposed definition and criteria for healthy foods. Plus, new research indicates that eating walnuts daily may help fend off the negative effects of stress.
Versatility: Walnuts can be used in almost every food category to provide flavor, texture and nutritional attributes.
There’s more. Walnuts’ versatility extends beyond the attributes (flavor, texture) they impart on a product. Walnuts also can be used to make a product both more nutritious and more indulgent. Few ingredients can be used more perfectly to provide the perfect crunch in a brownie and the perfect texture in a clean label plant-based meat alternative. Walnuts can.
California walnuts’ versatility is best exhibited by these innovative products on the market:
A high value tree nut
Walnuts are not a commodity ingredient in consumers’ eyes. California walnuts are a superfood. They are the only nut that offers an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the plant-based omega-3 fatty acid (2.5 g/oz). This attribute differentiates walnuts and allows product developers to create functional spreads, cereals, trail mixes and nutritious snacks that deliver those essential omega-3 fatty acids.
Similar to most tree nuts, walnuts also are a source of good fats. However, the fat composition of walnuts is very unique compared to other nuts. One ounce of walnuts offers 18 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat and 13 grams of polyunsaturated fat.
And there’s still more! Eating walnuts as part of a healthy diet may decrease your risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death globally. Walnuts help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure, two of the major risk factors for heart disease.1,2
The nutritional value of walnuts pairs perfectly with their ability to add the perfect texture to any product. Walnuts have the perfect bite. Neither too hard nor too soft, they are the ideal inclusion in everything from ice cream to snack bars to plant-based taco crumbles. With walnuts available in sizes ranging from halves to walnut meal, food manufacturers have the ability to tailor the perfect mouthfeel in products using walnuts. Plus, walnuts’ pliable texture and nooks and crannies make them a great medium for seasonings.
5 big ideas for the food and beverage industry
Walnuts deliver exceptional value at a favorable price, making them the perfect ingredient to build your next product development idea around. Here is some inspiration:
Walnut ground meat: A plant-based, clean-label and nutritious option to add protein and texture to vegan pasta sauces, frozen pizzas and tacos crumbles.
Ice Cream inclusion: Paired perfectly with chocolate or vanilla ice cream, amber colored walnuts provide a visually stunning and satisfying inclusion.
Baked goods: Walnuts are the perfect inclusion in whole grain pan breads and artisan breads, as well as cinnamon rolls and baklava.
Nutritious snacking: Season walnuts or add them to a mix to give consumers a plant-based source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids.
Food bar: Make a better-for-you version of your favorite sweet good (apple pie, banana bread, carrot cake) in a bar format with clean label ingredients like walnuts.
There’s never been a better time to formulate with California walnuts, and the California Walnut Commission is your resource for nutritional, technical and marketing information about using California Walnuts in a variety of products. Email us to set up a lunch and learn session or learn more at walnuts.org.
1FDA approved claim: Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day, as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, March 2004. One ounce of walnuts provides 18g of total fat, 2.5g of monounsaturated fat, 13g of polyunsaturated fat, including 2.5g of alpha-linolenic acid, the plant-based omega-3.
2Kris-Etherton P. Walnuts decrease risk of cardiovascular disease: a summary of efficacy and biologic mechanisms. J Nutr. 2014; 10: 39:2S-8S