The American Heart Association (AHA) has certified almonds with its signature Heart-Check mark to signify that they are a heart-healthy food. This symbol is the most consumer-trusted nutrition icon appearing on packaged foods -- in fact, one study found that more than half of shoppers use the mark as a deciding factor when choosing to purchase a new product. Consumers can now easily identify almonds as smart choice for their heart health.

"Nutrition research has long supported the heart health benefits of almonds," says Jenny Heap, MS, RD, Health Professional Marketing Manager, Almond Board of California. "Now consumers will be able to more easily identify almonds in the supermarket as a heart-smart food, helping take the guess work out of shopping."

Two decades of almond research to date has been recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) showing that the crunchy nut's nutrient profile supports healthy heart functions, with more studies being undertaken to support these findings every year. According to the FDA, "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Almond lovers have been savvy for some time to the nut's heart-healthy status, particularly when compared to other nuts. According to a 2011 consumer survey, almonds are the nut selected most often -- at more than 40 percent of respondents -- as "the nut that is a good snack and helps my heart," a significant 29 percent ahead of other nuts. That same survey showed that men are particularly interested in almonds' heart-healthy attributes, such as being completely cholesterol-free.

In each one-ounce serving, or about a handful, almonds provide 6 grams of protein, 13 grams of good unsaturated fat, only 1 gram of saturated fat, are naturally cholesterol-free, and contain fiber (3.5g), calcium (75mg), vitamin E (7.4mg), riboflavin (0.3mg) and niacin (1mg), all of which contribute to a healthy heart.

The timing of the Heart-Check certification couldn't be better. The Almond Board of California has recently launched a series of commercials highlighting the heart-healthy attributes of this delicious, crunchy snack by using a funny, heart-shaped spokesperson who just loves almonds! Destined to become an online favorite, the "Hearts Love Almonds" commercials can be seen at the Almond Board's You Tube page at youtube.com/user/AlmondBoardofCA as well as on ESPN and the Discovery Channel.

In any of their versatile forms, almonds provide health-conscious consumers a wide variety of ways to include a handful -- that's about 23 almonds -- in a heart-healthy diet, including:

  • Whole almonds as a portable, nutritious snack, especially when stored in a stylish, perfect one-ounce portion snack tin, available at AlmondBoard.com/shop
  • Sliced almonds to top salads or oatmeal for a boost of added crunch
  • Slivered almonds as a surprising addition for stir-fries and vegetable side dishes
  • Diced almonds as a nutty crust for meats or as a topping for yogurt

To find out more about Almond Board's ongoing commitment to heart health, including the latest research, news and information and delicious almond-inspired recipes, visit AlmondBoard.com.