newsAdd Nuts to Your Diet and you Could Help to Improve the Number and Quality of SpermThe good news is that not everything is down to genetics – as scientific evidence shows that diet also plays a prominent role in male fertility. And a daily nut consumption might have a potential impact on sperm quality and quantity, according to a new set of investigations. What does this refer to exactly?  A Mix of Nuts Is The Key A study funded by the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council, INC, and recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition took a look at the effect of eating a daily snack of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, on several sperm quality aspects, including size, shape and count.   A total of 119 young men, between 18 and 35, took part in the 14-week clinical trial. The group was split into two groups. The first one followed a Western-style diet with a daily supplement of 60g of tree nuts. The other group followed a similar diet but free of nuts. Nuts May Help You   The findings of the research were revealing. Those who had received the daily nut  snack showed improved sperm quality factors, including sperm count and shape. Researchers also examined the DNA fragmentation and saw that the men in the nut group presented lower levels of DNA fragmentation. Sperm with significantly fragmented DNA has been linked to male infertility.     In sum, a Western-style diet supplemented with nuts may help to improve quality sperm. Start adding them to your diet to potentially prevent fertility issues.“Nuts should be part of everyday cuisine”It was not part of the initial plan to become a chef. The head chef of Slovenia’s Hiša Franko, Ana Roš, was supposed to head down the path of an international diplomatic career. But things sometimes do not turn out how they are expected, and the former ski champion is now one of the world’s best chefs, crowned the World’s Best Female Chef in 2017. Ana Roš is behind Hiša Franko, in the picturesque Soča Valley. This unique restaurant ranks 48th on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, and its popularity skyrocketed after Ana starred in her own episode of the hit Nexflix series, Chef’s Table. You have a very interesting and inspiring life story. You come from an intellectual family, you were youth ski champion and then went on to do diplomatic studies in Italy. You could have ended up working in Brussels for an EU institution. What made you pursue a career as a chef? It is very easy the answer. I’m a very spontaneous person and I really believe that everybody should listen to their self and their heart. I was at the end of university when I met my husband, when love happened, even though my parents were pretty upset, angry and sad as well. I decided not to take up the diplomatic career. I finished university but then I decided to remain in the valley and to help him at what today is called Hiša Franko. At the beginning I was not in the kitchen, I was helping him to manage the place and service but then I understood that the heart of the house is actually the kitchen.   You did not have much experience as a chef back then. But were you always confident in your project? Did you always know that you were walking in the right direction? No, no, I was never confident in my project. I’m still not confident in my project. I think that as long as I question myself whether the things I’m doing are right or wrong, we are going to have  progress and evolution in front of us.   You can be considered a self-taught cook. What advantages does that have over having a background with a more formal training? Well, there are a lot of advantages but there are also a lot of disadvantages. But I think the advantage absolutely is a particular freedom, a particular personal approach that makes it so special. But on the other hand, there are also disadvantages. I call them “discovering hot water every single day”. When nobody teaches you how to do things, you have to discover them yourself and sometimes you cover three times the distance that is necessary to do it.   I heard in an interview that you believe that the most important elements for a chef to have are personality, territory and season. Could you explain that a bit further? Well, yes. I believe that when a restaurant becomes a destination for people who travel to taste a different cuisine I think it is very important that those people can have a unique experience, especially through the food they experience, and understand the place they are travelling too. I think it is so important to tell the story of the farmers, people who have gardens, to speak in their name by using their food to actually showcase the territory to our guests. And, of course, this is strictly connected to season. When you work so close to nature, it’s the only way you can do it, you can use local products, but then it’s the personality of the chef that makes the cuisine different from other chefs. This is, I believe, probably the strongest element. So, as we say for the poets: poets write from their heart, and hence it’s actually the same for cooking. You can always see when chefs are cooking from their mind and from their heart.   What can you tell us about Slovenian food? Has it evolved much over recent years? Has it changed? Yes, it has. I think it’s an immense step forward because it was a step from zero, since we are a country of peasants and of the countryside. You know, farmers and peasants never had fine dining. This is why this progression seems so big: because it’s a progression from nowhere, from zero. But I think that the reality of today is not that bright because I can see we still do not give enough importance to tradition. If you are in Ljubljana, or in the tourist points on the coast, there is almost no place where you can eat a great traditional meal, which is a big pity because, you know, there can be fine dining only in a place that recognizes tradition, it goes hand in hand. That’s why I don’t think a chef can have a great evolution without knowing the basics of tradition itself.   Is that what you are trying to do? To recover the Slovenian food tradition? We are working hard on bringing out the local tradition, the tradition of the place where we come from. We are strongly into it. My husband opened a place in the center of the village that is called 100% traditional, super-sustainable, super-traceable food that comes only from our environment. The product is really unique. It’s working super well and you can see how much people miss this connection to a tradition. Even at Hiša Franko, by sourcing the way we source, by using the products that we use, we respect tradition, and we know how to cook basic traditional food.   90% of the people who go to Hiša Franko come from other countries. What can they expect when they go to your restaurant? Or what would you like them to expect when they go there? That is a very good question. I think there is a period before Netflix, and a period after Netflix. There is a period before Best Female Chef, and a period after Best Female Chef. There is a period before Hiša Franko got 48th place on this year’s 50 Best list, and there is a period after. And I think these two periods are like black and white. Regarding the expectations, before people were coming here without any, but since people entered the house without expectations they left the house happy because we are always able to exceed the expectations by far. And then Netflix happened, and we became like a pilgrimage destination, and you can see that people have expectations. Then put on the top of this cake a cherry of the Best Female Chef and this year’s 48th position, which changes things a lot. People have strong expectations and we of course need to fight a lot to be able to make their dream to come true, which sometimes puts us into a difficult position because we are where we are because we are so unique, we are so different. We do not want to be compared to other restaurants. Now, of course, people who come after all this success sometimes want to have three-Michelin-star service or a three-Michelin-star ambience, which I am not really sure is what we are delivering. I’m not really sure that this is our intention. Sometimes it’s difficult, you know, to explain to people that we are where we are because of the uniqueness. It’s difficult when you live under the pressure of expectations on a daily basis. So, we are there now.   I believe that you are also involved in different philanthropic projects, with children in India, for instance. Why is it important to you to get involved in such projects? Well, how many of those did I do this year? Unfortunately, none because I’m struggling to survive myself to be able to make this restaurant succeed in the best possible way. But I´m also very philanthropic here because I’m trying to create the best possible human environment for the people who work with us. I’m getting involved in a project in Africa that is practically a fight-hunger project because I really believe that we all should share, we all should have our heart and mind open to other people who cannot have. I think all these things, whether I work with poor people or people who are in trouble, are spontaneous, they come from the heart. Charity is something that needs to come from my heart, and charity is not just like giving money or raising money, charity is more like showing people who are in trouble that they can do it in a better way.   Last question, nuts and dried fruits are present in some Slovenian food, in deserts, for instance. What role do nuts and dried fruits play in your cuisine? A huge amount. I think we have them all the time on the menu, especially hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds. Especially those three, which form part of our culture. I sometimes forget to eat because I’m so stressed or under pressure or I don’t have time to eat, so I always like to feed mself with nuts to be able to survive the day. I really believe that they should be part of everyday cuisine. to Have a Better Brain Health? Diet is Key! (And Nuts Too)Diet Quality is Linked to Better Brain Health   However, not all is bad news as diet has proved to be a key factor that could potentially help to prevent brain diseases. And several solid studies point in that direction.   A ten-year research, for instance – the so-called Rotterdam study – which concluded in 2015, established a clear link between a healthy diet and a proper brain health. More than 4,000 people were under investigation for a decade and the conclusions were revealing.   A quality diet - based on vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, dairy, fish and limited consumption of sugary drinks - proved to be associated with larger brain volume. Brain health, that is. The results clearly highlighted the critical role of nutrition in brain health.    Nuts May Be the Key   As for the specific role of nuts, there is something to be said here.  A recent scientific review also showed that almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts may also help to prevent Alzheimer's disease. The reason why is that they help to lower cholesterol levels, prevent oxidative stress and have relevant anti-inflammatory properties.  A Healthy Diet May Help Diet is therefore an important factor for the prevention of aging-associated brain diseases and prevention is better than cure. Interesting, right? Why not follow healthy eating patterns and add nuts to your diet that could help to prevent brain diseases? It’d definitely be a worthy and tasty investment!“Nuts are in our blood, they are part of our DNA”Restaurant Can Bosch, in the Catalan coastal town of Cambrils, has held a Michelin star for more than three decades. The restaurant’s Head Chef Joan Bosch has just been awarded with the 2018 INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy. The latest of many recognitions he has received for helping to shoot the Mediterranean cuisine to the top of the international gastronomic rankings. Yet, Joan Bosch’s approach is humble as he explains how his first encounter with the gastronomic world came by chance. Chef Bosch’s parents, his mother an excellent cook and his father a seaman, opened a restaurant where he began his career at a very early age, soon driven by a sheer amount of energy, enthusiasm and the ongoing desire to amaze customers with brand new dishes. Nuts and dried fruits indeed play a prominent role in his cuisine following the region’s tradition, well known for incorporating these ingredients into the foundation of their cooking. You have just been recognized with the INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy. Would you have ever imagined to be at the top of your profession when you took over your parents’ restaurant?   I would have never imagined to reach this far, but I am indeed very honored to have a quality restaurant in this moment. I did not start in the restaurant business by choice either. We come from a fisherman’s family, my mum was a great cook and my dad went with the seamen to fish. I am an only child and we started running a bar where people could order the usual vermú, cockles, olives, crisps... Later on we introduced a few tapas dishes on the menu and from there we moved on to mixed platters, after that we moved to a very classical seafood cuisine, in fact fish has always been in the restaurant’s DNA and we know it well. Besides, we always counted on my Dad to bring us good products back from the sea.   Did it ever cross your mind to do something different from a professional perspective? It didn´t back then. We opened the bar when I was very young, I´d just finished high school, and at that age unless you have a very defined idea of what you are going to do, it is difficult to go in that direction.   You mention that times were very different back then. Do you wish that when you started as a chef the cuisine world had the glamour that it has nowadays? Would it have been easier?   Yes, as soon as I started to take on the role as my own. I could see that people enjoyed what we were producing and could sense that we could go beyond but obviously without being aware of what we could actually reach. After a while we began setting certain goals although it was difficult to follow then as there were hardly any culinary schools in those times.   Your restaurant Can Bosch has held a Michelin star since 1984. What does it take to be a great chef and achieve and maintain such success?   Successful restaurants are those who hold two or three stars. One Michelin star is great to have as a reference point which ensures that quality food is going to be served at that restaurant. In reference to what’s necessary, you need to like it, otherwise it is not possible to last for so long because there are always ups and downs throughout time. You also need a lot of energy, great enthusiasm and the desire to always amaze customers with a different dish and little details that also count, not just food related, but also aspects that are not mentioned so often such as the restaurant’s dining area, which is its face. Everything has to be aligned to make a good impression so that customers are able to leave the restaurant with a positive feeling.   How would you describe your cooking style?   It´s an honest cooking style in terms that we use seasonal products, and a signature cuisine too. There are always a number of popular dishes that we tend to include on the menu if possible. But we always change the dishes depending on the season.   What is there in the Mediterranean region to be the home of so many recognized restaurants and reputable chefs?   Above all we are very much supported by the area’s culinary schools. We have also seen cutting edge chefs here, such as Adrià, the late Santi Santamaría, the Roca brothers at present… It is difficult to mention them all. That fact along with the culinary schools lately reinforced by TV programs has also helped. On top of that, the country has a great cooking tradition with its suquets, zarzuelas, calderetas, for instance, which have always been accompanied by the region’s quality nuts and dried fruits, which have been the backbone of many fish and meat dishes.   What do nuts and dried fruits add to a dish?   In our area, nuts and dried fruits have always been present not only in restaurants, but also in bars, as starters, guisos, picadas, and so on.   What is the nut that is never missing in your kitchen?   Hazelnuts and almonds are never missing at home. Of course you could always find other nuts and dried fruits but those two will always be present. And if they are from our region even more so.   Finally, how do you get inspired to cook?   Since I started working as a chef I get inspired very easily, seeing a simple dish for instance, but what I love the most is to go to the market, where I would love to buy everything to do different things, though it is always one thing what you would like to do, and another what you can do. But if possible, I always let myself get carried away by my imagination. to Improve Your Intestinal Health? Eat Nuts and Dried Fruits!Results showed that walnut intake may have an effect on the intestinal tract by increasing beneficial bacteria while reducing bile acids and “bad” cholesterol. Is there a more delicious way to get healthy? We don´t think so! Human gastrointestinal tract might not be an easy-to-remember term but it should not be undermined. It has one of the body’s most densely populated microbial communities. A wide variety of microorganisms, mainly bacteria, reside there. Microbial communities are indeed important because they contribute much to our health. Almonds Beneficial to Gut Health Walnuts are not the only nut that proved to have potential good effects. Tasty almonds, for instance, may also be beneficial to gut health as well. The reason is that they are high in unsaturated fatty acids, in other words, “good” fats. The good news is that these have antimicrobial properties and provoke changes on the intestinal tract. Digestive Health But that’s not all. If prunes are your thing, you might also want to read this. Exquisite for many, prunes contain nutrients and fiber that may help to improve bifidobacteria, which actually are useful to maintain digestive health. With all this in mind, let’s add nuts and dried fruits to our diet to help us stay in good shape!“My Recommendation is to Consume 4 to 7 Servings per Week of Any Type of Nuts as Part of a Healthy Diet”Her research interests include the role of the Mediterranean diet on type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She is currently working on Dietary Interventions, metabolomics, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the context of the PREDIMED Study (a randomized clinical trial for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease). Dr. Guasch-Ferré’s research is also focused on evaluating the effect of olive oil, nuts and other dietary fats on type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Mediterranean populations (the PREDIMED Study) but also in large non-Mediterranean cohorts (Nurses’ Health Study I and II and Health Professionals Follow-up Study). She was awarded the prestigious Beatriu de Pinos Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Catalan Government and is currently the PI of a project entitled ‘Mechanisms Underlying Metabolomic Profiles and Type 2 Diabetes’, funded by the American Diabetes Association. You just led the “largest study to date” into the frequency of nut consumption and cardiovascular disease. Did you expect these results? Although previous evidence has shown that frequent nut consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular risk factors including dyslipidemia, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, as well as with lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), most of the previous prospective studies have focused on total nut consumption in relation to the risk of total cardiovascular diseases (CVD). However, the associations between peanut butter and specific types of nuts, such as peanuts and walnuts, with major cardiovascular events, and specifically the relation with stroke, were unclear. Of note, because the nutritional composition of peanuts and walnuts differs from other nuts, it was of particular interest to evaluate the health effects of specific types of nuts. Briefly, we have observed that in three large prospective cohorts with up to 32 years of follow-up, people who regularly eat nuts, including peanuts, walnuts and tree nuts, have a lower risk of developing CVD and CHD compared to people who never or almost never eat nuts. Our results in three large studies confirmed the previous findings in this topic but also added new lines of evidence regarding specific types of nuts and their benefits. In fact, because of the previous evidence and the unique composition of nuts, in general, we expected these results and they were in line with our a priori hypothesis.   210,000 people and up to 32 years of follow up. Could you outline how the study worked? Our study was conducted in the framework of three large-cohort studies, the Nurses’ Health Study I (NHS), the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS). These studies are among the largest prospective investigations into the risk factors for major chronic diseases. NHS I included female nurses aged 30 to 55 years, from 11 U.S. states and was established in 1989. NHS II included younger female registered nurses aged 25 to 42 at the beginning of the study and was established in 1989. HPFS enrolled male health professionals between the ages of 40 and 75, starting in 1986. In all three cohorts, information about medical history, lifestyle, and health conditions has been collected by self-administered questionnaires every two years since baseline. Using food-frequency questionnaires administered every four years, we asked participants how often they had consumed a serving of nuts (serving size, 28 g [1 oz]) during the preceding year. Physicians reviewed the participants’ medical records to collect information about diseases including cardiovascular disease and death. Using all this information, we were able to analyze the relationship between nut consumption and CVD.   What is the main conclusion? Can we say that consuming nuts helps prevent heart diseases such as stroke and coronary heart disease? The take-home message of our work is that increasing the intake of a variety of nuts, as part of a healthy diet, may help to reduce the risk of CVD in the general population. Specifically, we found a consistent inverse association between total nut consumption and total CVD (14% lower risk for those consuming nuts five or more times per week) and CHD (20% lower risk). Also, after looking at individual nut consumption, eating walnuts one or more times per week was associated with a 19 percent lower risk of CVD and 21 percent lower risk of CHD. Participants who ate peanuts or tree nuts two or more times per week had a 15 percent and 23 percent lower risk, respectively, of CHD compared to those who never consumed nuts. For stroke, the evidence was less consistent, although we found no evidence of an association between total nut consumption and risk of stroke, the intake of peanuts and walnuts was inversely associated with the risk of stroke.   Is it true that total nut consumption was more strongly associated with lower rates of fatal CVD (24%) than nonfatal CVD (9%)? Yes, this is true, we have observed stronger associations for fatal CVD than nonfatal CVD. These results are consistent with previous studies. For example, in a study (meta-analysis) combining the estimates from 7 previous studies, a 30% lower risk of CHD mortality was observed in participants with higher nut consumption but no significant associations for nonfatal CHD were observed.   Has the association between nuts and CVD and CHD definitively proven, or is further research needed? I believe that the evidence regarding nut consumption and CVD and CHD is quite strong and consistent. However, in our study, data on how the nuts were prepared was not available so it was impossible to test the influence of preparation methods. By this I mean that we couldn’t differentiate between salted and unsalted nuts and it is likely that it is not the same to consume raw or roasted nuts, which we know is beneficial for health, than to consume peanuts covered in chocolate or nuts with high amounts of sodium. More research is needed to further investigate the differences between the preparation methods of nuts and to further elucidate the effect of peanut butter on health outcomes.   What are the next research challenges regarding nuts and their health benefits? Several lines of research can be pursued after this work, including a more in-depth investigation of the mechanisms underlying the associations between nuts and CVD with novel omics techniques such as genomics, metabolomics and proteomics. Also, identifying objective biomarkers of nut consumption with the use of metabolomics techniques (identification of small molecules present in a biological sample) can be of help to evaluate the compliance with dietary intervention on nut consumption. For example, to identify a cluster of biomarkers (metabolites) that can discriminate between non-consumers versus consumers of nuts as a more reliable way to assess dietary intake.   What do you consider healthy eating? Which dietary pattern is most beneficial to health? Recently, dietary recommendations have shifted toward diets including higher quantities of plant-based foods over animal-based foods, with most dietary patterns including nuts because of their association with reduced cardiovascular risk factors and unique nutritional composition. Nuts are a good source of healthy fats including mono- and poly- unsaturated fatty acids as well as rich in plant-based protein, minerals, vitamins and fiber. Thus, they can be a key food to be included as part of healthy diets high in plant-based food and help to substitute animal foods such as red meat, providing a nutritious and delicious food. A wide range of dietary patterns can be considered healthy and beneficial to health including plant-based diets, vegetarian diets, and the Mediterranean diet, among several others.   What is true about this and what is the current scientific evidence? Despite nuts being an energy-dense food, there is no scientific evidence supporting associations between weight gain and nut consumption. Indeed, they have been associated with lower weight gain and lower risk of obesity, probably because they can increase satiety and fullness, which may potentially reduce the consumption of unhealthy snacks.   What makes nuts so special? Besides being a healthy food that has been proven to have several benefits for health, nuts are highly palatable and very easy to be incorporated in the context of healthy diets. They can be used as healthy snacks, or included in salad, desserts and in many recipes. In addition, and because they are high in plant-based protein and healthy fats, they are a good substitute for animal protein such as red and processed meats.   Nuts have been proven to have beneficial effects on the body, why and how do they act on our metabolism? Nuts are believed to be beneficial for heart problems mainly because of their unique nutritional composition. Nuts are high in healthy fats (unsaturated fatty acids), fiber, minerals, vitamins and several other bioactive compounds such as antioxidants, which may in part explain their beneficial effects on cardiovascular health. Some of the mechanisms that may underlie these associations include the fact that nuts have been shown to improve blood lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides), attenuate inflammatory processes and improve glucose tolerance and diabetic related traits, all of which are risk factors for CVD. However, even greater health benefits may be achieved through a combination of several lifestyle factors, including adhering to a healthy diet (for example, diets with high amounts of plant foods and the reduction of animal foods. One good example would be to include the intake of different types of nuts as a replacement for other unhealthy foods such as red meat), moderate physical activity, no smoking, and low alcohol consumption, among other things.   What level of consumption of nuts would you recommend to the general population to reduce the risk of chronic diseases? For total nuts, we observed that those participants who consume a handful of nuts (which is equivalent to 28g or 1 ounce) five or more times per week had the lowest risk of CVD and CHD as compared to those who never or almost never consume nuts. A beneficial effect of nuts on CVD was also observed in the group of participants consuming two to four times per week of nuts. And in fact, when we evaluated the intake of nuts as a 28g increase in nut consumption (instead of categories of nut consumption) each 28g increase in nut intake was associated with 6% lower risk of CVD and 13% lower risk of CHD. For the intake of peanuts and tree nuts the greatest benefit was also observed in the higher category, which in this case was those consuming two or more times per week and for one or more times per week for walnuts. So, I would say that the recommendations should be to consume 4 to 7 servings per week of any type of nuts in a context of a healthy diet.“My Only Dream Is to Improve What I Did the Previous Day”When he bought the restaurant building in the center of the village, he and his family rebuilt it entirely themselves. He is self-taught and has only ever worked in one kitchen -his own- where he designed and built his famous adjustable-height grills. He rarely leaves the restaurant except to tend to his farm animals, which supply many of the raw ingredients for his tasting menu. How does it feel to run the 6th best restaurant in the world, according to The World’s 50 Best ranking? Is it daunting? Do you feel vertigo? No. Absolutely not. To be honest, I feel today exactly the same levels of vertigo that I used to when I wasn’t on that list. I feel equally responsible for all my work. All I can say is that I am deeply grateful for such recognition and for so many customers that have visited us over the years and have helped us achieve it. How do you explain it? What do you think led Asador Etxebarri to obtain the nomination? I don’t really know if there is any specific explanation for that. I guess it must be a reflection of the people who come to Etxebarri, of what they see and taste here, of what the establishment offers and makes them experience. For those readers who haven’t been at Etxebarri and don’t know the restaurant: What is Etxebarri? What do customers find there? How would you define your style as a chef? Probably lots of things could be said here. I could mention so many characteristics and features… But, to summarize the three questions in just one, my answer would be: simplicity, humility and respect. What makes charcoal grill cuisine so special? Cooking using charcoal grill is special because wood provides very characteristic aromas which are easily recognized by everybody. It somehow ends up reflected in the final dish as one more ingredient which cannot be seen but is clearly perceived. Lots of articles and reviews highlight that, at Etxebarri, food is the core element of everything, and especially the raw material. You aim for nothing less than the best ingredients. Is that true? That is at least what we constantly try. Sometimes it is not easy and, of course, it is not always possible to achieve, but that is our aim and our desired policy, and we focus our efforts on attempting to accomplish it. They also mention that a remarkable number of the ingredients used are sourced from your own farm. How influential is that on the final result of a dish? It is probably not decisive, but it does have an influence. I consider it of vital importance to have a deep knowledge of the product itself, of its origin, of what processing it has undergone, and using products from our own farm of course allows me to accomplish that. Is there any ingredient that you have discovered recently and that has become essential to your cuisine? Common sense is the most valuable ingredient. It would be very hard to get anywhere without it. You are known for being a self-taught chef. Was it a matter of instinct, of trying different formulas until finding the right one, of following advice… or a bit of everything? It’s true, you could say that I am basically a self-taught chef. On the one hand, I do follow my instincts very often, I rely very much on them. But on the other hand, it is also true that I like to listen to others -I value people’s opinions very much. I guess that all of it has contributed to defining our style at Etxebarri. Did you expect, when you started, to eventually achieve the worldwide fame that you have today? Not at all. And, in fact, I never pursued it. I am not really a friend of fame. What I did start with is a lot of enthusiasm, and I still have it. I have always had a lot of passion for what I do. At this point, what are your dreams for the future? My only dream is to improve on what I did the previous day. When you run the world’s best 6th restaurant, what do you do at home, on your days off, or at family reunions? Do you cook yourself? Or do you prefer to go out and try other restaurants? Honestly, I do cook at home as well, but from time to time I go out and try other restaurants too. However, when I do so, I go there as a regular customer and not as a professional: I am only seeking to enjoy the food and the experience, not to try and compare. Why do you think a region as small as the Basque Country has two restaurants among the world’s 10 best, and 4 among the world’s best 50? What is it that makes Basque cuisine so special and successful? Each restaurant of course has its own characteristics, but as a common pattern for Basque gastronomy I would mainly mention its fresh products, which are the basis for everything. And I would also point out the seasonality of this cuisine: Menus and dishes are tightly linked to the products in season. I understand that to be a sign of authenticity and freshness. Besides, cuisine and gastronomy are an essential part of Basque culture, it is very present in people’s lives and it permeates all social layers and sectors. Basque people are passionate about cuisine. You are also a keen user of nuts and dried fruits in your dishes. Exactly. Everything has importance, and we do make some of our dishes with nuts and dried fruits. They represent a very interesting element when it comes to combining tastes, and they are also helpful when searching for texture combinations. Additionally, they are also an aesthetic element which enhances the look of the final dish. Plus they present a very rich nutritional profile and, as regards the particular gastronomic style of Etxebarri, I have to say that nuts make a great match for charcoal grill cuisine. Where is contemporary cuisine going? Do you think there is sometimes too much paraphernalia, or is it all about styles and tastes? The line that separates those two things is very sensitive, very weak… And it can lead to confusion. and Endothelial Function: How to Reduce your Risk of Cardiovascular DiseaseThe Endothelium For example: Endothelial dysfunction, which is considered a precursor for atherosclerosis and an independent predictor of CVD[1]. The endothelium is a monolayer of cells in arterial vessels. Its function is to contribute to maintaining normal vascular tone and blood fluidity. Some cardiovascular risk factors including smoking, hypertension, and high LDL-cholesterol levels, can directly induce endothelial dysfunction. Such risk factors need obviously to be avoided. In addition to these “don’ts”, there are also some ‘do’s’ that may help protect endothelial function. The Role of Nuts Nuts, for example. That is the conclusion of a recent study[2] published in the journal BMJ Open and supported by the International Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC). This study consisted of a ‘meta-analysis’, meaning that researchers have reviewed the conclusions of 36 articles describing 32 previous studies, and among other parameters it analyzed the effect of nut consumption on endothelial function. After their research, investigators found that nut consumption may have a favorable effect on endothelial function. Specifically, they detected a favorable effect on the so-called ‘flow mediated dilation’, which is a measure of endothelial function. Reduce your Risk! Several years ago, in 2011, another review had already suggested likewise. On that occasion, the review was conducted by the European Food Safety Authority to substantiate the health claim: “Walnuts contribute to the improvement of the elasticity of blood vessels”. In conclusion, including nuts within a healthy dietary pattern may have favorable effects on endothelial dysfunction. Not only will you be enjoying their tasty flavor and their essential nutrients! By consuming nuts, you may also be reducing your risk of suffering cardiovascular disease. [1] Xiao, Y., Huang, W., Peng, C., Zhang, J., Wong, C., Kim, J. H., ... & Su, X. (2017). Effect of nut consumption on vascular endothelial function: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Nutrition, Nov 22;7(11):e016863. [2] Neale, E. P., Tapsell, L. C., Guan, V., & Batterham, M. J. (2017). The effect of nut consumption on markers of inflammation and endothelial function: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. BMJ open, 7(11), e016863.“In Cooking, You Can Innovate, Experiment, Search for Beauty… but Never Lose Taste”Mitsuharu 'Micha' Tsumura, Chef at Maido Restaurant A Lima-born Peruvian, Nikkei ‘Micha’ Tsumura was encouraged by his father to turn his passion for cooking into a profession and, after studying culinary arts in the US, he went to Japan to learn about his cultural and culinary heritage. Though he spent many months washing dishes, he learned vital knife skills and eventually how to cook rice and make sushi. He took a job at the Sheraton on returning to Lima and, some years later, opened Maido, which reached No.8 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2017. How does it feel to run the 8th best restaurant in the world? What is essential, beyond the ranking, and I have kept saying this since I opened the restaurant, is taking care of the details every day. That is the best thermometer of how well you are doing your job: how customers enjoy your cuisine, what their experience is, walking through the tables and feeling the clients’ joy. Being in that position of the ranking is of course an extra motivation for the entire team. Rather than being overwhelming, it encourages us to keep working and doing things the right way. In the end, we try to do so because it is our passion. Anyone who owns a restaurant and takes it only as a business or is mainly focused on gathering accolades usually won’t achieve either. Your mind has to be oriented to improving the customer experience. Everything else will come naturally after that. What is the Nikkei cuisine? If one analyzes the Peruvian cuisine and strives to understand it, and to understand as well why it has developed this much over the past decade, there are three very important factors. First, the Peruvian culture, the ancient civilization that we have had for thousands of years, which bears a gastronomic culture with techniques that still today continue to be used. What else? Second, the biodiversity of the country. 75% of the world’s microclimates are present in Peru and that provides an amazing biodiversity. The third factor is the external influence that we have received from Europe, Spain, Italy, Africa, China and Japan. Anyone can tell that Peruvian cuisine has a lot of external influence, and especially from Japan. And that is where “Nikkei” cuisine was born… If we had to provide a definition, we could say that it is a Peruvian style of cuisine with a Japanese influence. My father is from Japan, and my mother’s ancestors also were Japanese. Nikkei means exactly that: of Japanese descendance. Of course, my Nikkei cuisine is a result of the influence of my family background. However, in the early days of my career I did not have the clear intention of becoming a Nikkei chef. I just enjoyed cooking. Nevertheless, as time passed, and especially back in Peru after living abroad, I understood that my mission was to create a cuisine that could unite two countries: the one where I was born, and the one that is my heritage, the blood running through my veins. Born only 8 years ago, your restaurant is now among the most prestigious in the world. How does a project achieve such success? It is a mixture of many factors. First, if one analyzes the explosion and internationalization of the Peruvian cuisine, it also began approximately at that time, around 8 years ago. Therefore, the success of our project somehow had to do with being at the right time at the right place. However, as it is usually said, you might be at the right time and at the right place but if you have nothing worthy to offer, you won’t succeed. So, along with being lucky, you definitely had something to offer. What? If I had to figure out what happened, why we are talking right now about Maido in this interview, I would point out several things: first, that our cuisine has always been flavor-oriented. There can be a lot of attitudes in cooking: innovate, research, search for beauty… but one can never lose the taste. And I consider that every dish we are serving, when you take it to your mouth you will be hit, you will feel a powerful taste. I don’t consider my cuisine as a subtle one. It’s rather powerful. Your dishes also sound innovative. We have built something different, we took risks in many moments by choosing a gastronomy that had not been offered ever before. We have created our own style, but with plentiful sense, with a lot of research on why we do things. We have, for example, created a world of Peruvian sushi, and we have made people understand that the Nikkei cuisine does exist, that it might be relatively new but bears a thriving concept: the power of Peruvian cuisine combined with the Japanese subtleness. You have mentioned that you took risks. Was it difficult to be so innovative? Quite. At the beginning, people did not understand our style. It was complicated to find customers willing to taste our Degustation [tasting] Menus. Until not so long ago, people used to go to restaurants just to eat their favorite meal, knowing exactly what they were going to taste. They were usually reluctant to tasting new and unknown flavors. At Maido, although we have a lot of usual clients that often order the same dishes, there is always room for surprise. A few years ago, this concept, surprise, was not as welcome as it is today. Nowadays, people are used to experimenting, and that is very helpful. Are there examples of dishes that at first were not welcomed by customers and now are extremely popular? Sure. Our meat sushi, for example. The use of meat in a sushi was very shocking at first. Or our famous “nigiri a lo pobre” (poor-style nigiri), made with meat, quail egg and a spicy sauce. People don’t usually associate these ingredients with sushi and it took some time for customers to accept these innovations. I always claimed that there are also people who never taste sushi because they don’t want to eat raw fish or seafood, and this was a way for them to taste it! We are bringing cuisine to a new world of experimentation. What about nuts and dried fruits? Do they have a prominent role in your cuisine? Yes. They are present indeed. For example, we have a codfish dish that we prepare following a genuine Japanese technique: we marinate it in miso for one day and then cook it on the grill. We serve it with Brazil nuts. The texture and taste of Brazil nuts are simply spectacular, and that is why we top the codfish with them. It provides a crunchy touch. We also use nuts, especially Brazil nuts, almonds and pistachios, and also dried fruits (mainly apricots, figs and dates) in our salads and desserts. Denies the Myth: Nut Presence in a Diet Doesn’t Mean a Higher Weight GainIt has long been assumed popularly that nut consumption leads to a weight gain. Their taste and their undeniable gastronomic qualities are out of question, and so are their nutritional properties. However, the belief that they are a fattening food has been commonly accepted for decades. Energy-Dense Foods The fact that they are energy-dense foods, since they can provide up to 200kcal per serving (30 grams), may wrongly lead to the conclusion that those who consume nuts as part of their regular diet will probably experience a higher weight gain than those who don’t. However, and happily enough for those who love their consumption, new scientific research has provided enlightening results in this regard. A recent study published in the European Journal of Nutrition has come to the conclusion that, when compared to a nut-free diet, the presence of nuts in a diet leads to a more moderate weight increase. A Study with 375,000 Participants Nearly 375,000 volunteers recruited between 1992 and 2000 from 10 European countries participated in the mentioned study: Their body weight was measured at the beginning of the trial and after 5 years. At the same time, the diet of the participants was followed and analyzed through questionnaires. The results revealed that those participants who had consumed more nuts (more than one serving per week), incorporated to a standard diet, did gain weight, but less than those who hadn’t. Additionally,  higher nut consumers also demonstrated a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese. Specifically, individuals consuming more nuts had a 5% less risk of obesity or overweight. ‘A Non-Fattening Healthy Food’ Therefore, the results of the study emphatically deny what has eventually been proven a myth: that the presence of nuts in a diet automatically means a higher weight gain. “This is the largest study ever conducted, showing that nuts are a non-fattening healthy food”, said Dr. Joan Sabate, Professor of Nutrition at Loma Linda University and Senior Investigator of this research. These findings add even more reasons to include nuts in our diet: they can be added to the health benefits, nutritional properties and, of course, taste and gastronomic value of nuts. Altogether makes them a perfect fit for a healthy and enjoyable diet.“The right mix of nuts and dried fruits is all you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle”JP Singh, Executive Chef at Bukhara Chef J.P. Singh is the Executive Chef at Bukhara Restaurant (Delhi, India), winner of the 2017 INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy. An expert in Indian Cuisine, Chef J.P., as he is affectionately known, honed his skills at the Institute of Hotel Management, Delhi, and further enhanced this knowledge at the Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition, Mumbai. He joined the ITC-Welcomgroup in 1981 as a Demi Chef De Partie and held several key positions before heading the kitchen at Bukhara, located at the ITC Maurya hotel, in 1991. Chef J.P. has traveled extensively across the globe promoting and educating people on the popular Bukhara cuisine in countries including New Zealand, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Colombia, Ecuador, the USA, Costa Rica, Venezuela & Panama. Chef JP has personally catered for numerous celebrities and heads of state at Bukhara, which is world-famous for its open kitchen, traditional Indian North-West Frontier region style and its menu, which hasn’t changed in 30 years. Bukhara is one of Asia’s most renowned restaurants. Now you have just won the INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy… What makes Bukhara so special? In a world where ‘change’ is the order of the day, Bukhara has been acknowledged for its culinary excellence since its inception almost four decades ago! We practise ‘responsible sourcing’ of the best ingredients, a part of ITC Hotels credo of ‘responsible luxury’. Having emerged as an icon that features in the itinerary of visiting dignitaries and heads of state from around the globe, it has remained unchanged and unmatched. The USP menu has never changed since its inception. It’s a ‘must-dine’ destination for the world’s dignitaries and celebrities! How do you personally feel about that, considering your current position at the restaurant and, above all, that you have been an essential part of most of its history? Having been associated with Bukhara for almost three decades as its executive chef gives me immense satisfaction. Since it is a must-dine place for PMs, presidents and celebrities, it becomes rather challenging to retain its image while at the same time remaining abreast of the competition on the global front. You have been part of Bukhara’s staff for more than 30 years. How did it become one of the most popular and successful restaurants in India? You feel elated to see the repeat clientele and elite guests coming over again and again, sometimes successive generations from the same family coming together, preparing them to be the future clients of Bukhara. Though the menu is short and crisp, its consistency and overall experience makes it unique and it speaks for itself. I have personally seen it growing in popularity and I have great appreciation for my team, which I lead from the front. The menu has remained the same for decades and has stuck to a very genuine and specific style. Why is that? The menu has not changed since its inception in 1978 because at Bukhara we believe that ‘every creation is a masterpiece’ and we have chosen to retain its particular style, consistency and authenticity.  This clearly shows that the authenticity of the cuisine remains close to our hearts and the result is the most masterful North-West Frontier tandoori style cooking imaginable. Weren’t you afraid that innovation fever could leave you isolated and out of popular trends? Not at all! Innovation fever is time-bound and has its peaks and valleys. However, as I’ve said, we proudly display on our chefs’ hats ‘Every Creation is a Masterpiece’.  We have authentic, master creations on our menu, out of which innovative ideas are influencing neo-modern restaurants all over.  But we remain strong at our grass roots and have not been swept away by this innovation fever. The soul of the element is in the roots! In general terms, what can customers eat at Bukhara? How would you describe its cuisine? At Bukhara, serving North West Frontier cuisine, the prime cuts of meat and vegetables are marinated with the choicest of spices and skillfully cooked on a high heat in clay ovens called Tandoor, which allow them to retainin their tender moistness.  The world-famous Dal Bukhara is sure to be the longest cooked lentil in the world and is really ‘regal’ and sought after, a fact of which we are really proud.  The signature dishes are Sikandari Raan, Murgh Malai Kebab, Tandoori Jhinga, Barrah Kebab, Paneer Tikka, Tandoori Aloo and above all the famous Dal Bukhara. What is an Executive Chefs’ role? Is it more about creating and cooking, or about managing? My role is to ensure quality, consistency, the guests’ delight through interaction, meet most of the regulars, VVIPs, HOS and educate them about the cuisine.  Above all, I am hands on chef and love to do the meat cuts, marination and the making of Dal Bukhara.  I Also have to keep up the morale of the team at any given point. We have created a congenial atmosphere in the kitchen and the staff turnover rate is almost zero at Bukhara. The team love being associated with the brand Bukhara and strive to retain their image.  Being the custodian of Bukhara and Peshawari (located at the various ITC properties and identical to Bukhara in every way) my role also involves ensuring the same consistency at all Peshawari in line with Bukhara standards. What can Bukhara expect in the future? It must continue to be at the top of the ‘must dine’ list of culinary aficionados in India and the world over. Bukhara must remain market leader and retain and enhance the Bukhara brand image on the global map. Ambassadors of Bukhara must make sure to continue spreading the enthusiasm across the continents. What do celebrities find so charming about Bukhara? Bukhara has captured the hearts of many global icons, including US ex-presidents such as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British prime ministers like Tony Blair, David Cameron and Theresa May, prime ministers from New Zealand, Singapore and many more, who have not only dined at Bukhara but also entered the kitchen to understand the techniques behind the magical delights of the tandoor. Others, like Bill Gates, Lewis Hamilton, Bryan Adams, Mick Jagger and Arnold Schwarzenegger also enjoyed themselves and left after an unimaginable experience! They undoubtedly find the restaurant charming because of the joy and happiness in its atmosphere, and also because they are educated to eat with their hands. As per the Indian ritual and belief, and at Bukhara too, we believe that food must be experienced through all your senses, one of the many reasons why we encourage you to eat with your hands. We serve water in copper glasses for therapeutic purposes. We have also created a ‘Wall of Fame’ at Bukhara displaying the pictures of most of the famous celebrities who have visited Bukhara and eaten with their hands. We have received more than 60 awards, laurels and accolades in the last 39 years of our existence. At Bukhara, the kitchen can be seen by the customers. What does that change regarding your job? Does it make it harder, or at least increase the pressure? Bukhara was probably the first restaurant in the country to have a front-show kitchen protruding within the restaurant. We rather enjoy working like this as it has become part of our work culture since it’s inception to ensure hygiene and the upkeep of the kitchen.  Also, the guests do enjoy watching the chefs doing a great job, making the kebabs and the breads in front of them and the making of the gigantic Naan Bukhara – big enough for a family of five or six. In fact, we proudly invite the VVIPs to visit the kitchen. What is the role of nuts and dried fruits at Bukhara? We use nuts and dried fruits in our veg preparations and extensively in our desserts, of course. Beyond Bukhara, what role do you think nuts and dried fruits can have in cuisine? What difference can they make? Do you enjoy them? What is your favorite dish which features them? With natural sugars and fibers, zero cholesterol and fats and a variety of delectable flavors, nuts and dried fruits are an excellent source of all the essential nutrients. The right and regular mix of almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios, raisins and other dried fruits and nuts is all you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In Indian cuisine, nuts and dried fruits are used extensively to achieve textures from a chunky bite to the silky smoothness of the gravies, to provide richness and for presentation. and Dried Fruits - Today’s Perfect SnackAlthough snacking could at first sight be deemed insignificant, it stands in fact as a pivotal element in people’s diet. Especially in current times, when new lifestyle patterns have undoubtedly changed and people have now less time, constantly rush and seem to live in a permanent hurry-up. In this new scenario, meals have become somehow an accessory activity. A mere formality that needs to be fulfilled. Leaving aside the fact that they still are an outstanding opportunity to enjoy a delightful experience, it goes without saying that meals continue to be, above all, a nutritional necessity. Balancing the Diet Consequently, snacks need to gain prominence so as to keep the balance. According to a 2016 scientific study, snacking may contribute close to one-third of daily energy intake in current society. Therefore, today’s snacks not only need to be easy and practical to carry, and quick to eat (which traditionally was their only requisite), but also must provide satiety and supply essential nutrients. Considering such requisites, nuts and dried fruits stand as ideal choices. Why? Basically, because they may meet them all. They are, of course, easy and practical to carry and eat, which is rule number one. Moreover: there is enough with a handful of them, which enhances their comfortable transportability. The Importance of a “Filling” Snack But, more importantly, most of nuts and dried fruits are high in fiber and also contain vitamins and minerals among other interesting nutrients which may help provide satiety more efficiently than most traditional snacks do. The above-mentioned 2016 study concluded that “whole foods high in protein, fiber, and whole grains (e.g., nuts, yogurt, prunes, and popcorn) enhance satiety when consumed as snacks”. Almonds, for example, were tested as a mid-morning snack on women and they turned out to “generate satiety and appropriate adjustment of subsequent food intake”. This means that almonds not only mitigated short-term hunger, but also had a long-run influence: the mid-morning almond snack led women to present lower appetite at lunch and dinner time, according to this study published in 2014. Nevertheless, it is not only about nuts. Dried fruits also result in a smart snacking choice. This study, for instance, showed similar properties about prunes. According to it, “the addition of dried prunes to a snack seems to promote satiety besides providing valuable nutrients”. Nuts and Dried Fruits: Interesting Profile That is the third pillar. If it were not enough, nuts and dried fruits have an interesting nutritional profile which may help provide satiety. In another project published in 2016, researchers found that regular nut consumption may help improve nutrient profiles compared to other snacks. Specifically, the study compared the effects of hazelnuts, potato chips and chocolate, and it concluded that “significant improvements in diet quality were observed in the hazelnut group, particularly when consumed as snacks”. Hazelnut intake was proven to increase amounts of monounsaturated fat -considered a “heart-healthy” fat- and vitamin E, whereas saturated fat and carbohydrate were significantly lower. Similar conclusions were produced by the USA’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (Nhanes). The between-meal snacks of nearly 18,000 people, both children and adults, were replaced by a measured nut composite, and results showed that replacing between-meal snacks with tree nuts or almonds led to more nutrient-rich diets. Again, dried fruits deserve prominence in this regard. When researchers compared raisins to processed snacks on glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors in a 12-week trial, they concluded that regular consumption of raisins may reduce glycemia and cardiovascular risk factors, including blood pressure rate. In conclusion: nuts and dried fruits are practical, easy to carry and quick to eat; and they are associated to satiating and interesting nutritional properties. They hence meet every needed requisite in order to be considered today’s perfect snack. Don’t they?“Nuts and dried fruits are among the ingredients that we use most in our kitchen”Enrico Crippa, Executive Chef at Piazza Duomo Enrico Crippa trained under some of the most renowned chefs in Europe. Christian Willer, Ghislaine Arabian, Antoine Westermann, Michel Bras and Ferran Adrià are among the masters who have inspired his career. He started in the restaurant business when he was 16 and, at the age of 25, left for Japan to work for three years as Executive Chef in restaurants in Kobe and Osaka. It was there he learnt to appreciate the elegance and simplicity of Japanese cuisine. Back in Europe, in 2003, he began working at Ristorante Piazza Duomo, where he displayed and developed his distinctive and imaginative style and during which time, 2012 to be precise, he added a third Michelin star to those he was awarded in 2006 and 2009. He takes pride in his personal relationship with all his suppliers. The products used in his cooking are as local as it gets, everything is sourced from within 50 kilometers of the restaurant, which is why his dishes have the distinctive taste Langhe and Piedmont at their heart. How would you define your style? Green: My style of cooking is based around vegetables, sprouts, salad and flowers. My aim is to make the vegetables the centre of the dish. I love to create new dishes and get inspiration from our own garden. What does perfection mean to you? Does a Michelin Star chef need to be obsessed with perfection? I am a very meticulous person and I think my dishes should all be well defined and precise. For me, it’s not about being obsessed, it is the natural path of my own work. Working so many hours a week, for so many customers coming from such different places, how do you manage to personalize your dishes? I work. All the time I spend in the kitchen with my team is dedicated to personalizing the dishes. Over the years, we’ve learned how to better understand our customers and it’s very important to think and to be able to personalize dishes for them. How important are local ingredients in your culinary creations? We are in a very lucky region; we have all the best raw material of Piedmont. We have special meat, good wines, good cheese and local products that are very important to our kitchen. We are really keen on finding new, small local producers. My cooking is innovative, but it is improved by local ingredients. Most of what you use in the kitchen comes from within a radius of 50 kilometers. What is the relationship with your suppliers? The relationship with our suppliers is very familiar and respectful. We respect the work they do for always being of the highest standard and they respect our dedication to our work. Where can we notice the regional influence that Langhe and Piedmont have in your work? There is always a regional signature in my work and in my dishes. It could be just one ingredient or my interpretation of a classic regional dish. This region treasures a very rich food culture. What is new that Enrico Crippa and Piazza Duomo have brought to a cuisine with such a long-standing tradition? I think that I’ve brought my creativity and my experiences from all around the world to create a special combination of tradition and innovation. How has Piazza Duomo evolved since it was opened in 2005? Piazza Duomo is always growing and evolving. I can feel the evolution day by day; what we did yesterday is completely different today, a sort of daily evolution. France and Japan have been part of your career as a chef. How do these elements feature in your cooking? Both cultures have a great respect for ingredients, the painstaking attention to detail and color. These are the elements you can find in my cooking. Tell us a little bit more about Japan. You describe those 3 years as fundamental to your cooking experience. Why? My experience in Japan was fundamental for me because it was there where I discovered an extraordinary cuisine where you can see great respect for the taste of the ingredients - full of tradition. I think that in Europe we’re probably only able to sample about 5% of Japanese cuisine. Antoine Westermann, Michel Bras, Ferran Adrià and Gualtiero Marchesi are among your mentors. How have they have inspired you? All the chefs that I’ve met in my life have inspired me, with their creativity and ideas. They are always an example for me. How much do nuts and dried fruits feature in your cooking? They are among the ingredients that we use most in our kitchen, I can’t forget that Piazza Duomo is in the heart of the hazelnut region! You like to combine them with…? I love to combine hazelnuts with cardoon, as I do in my signature salad (Salad 21…31…41…) and with chocolate. Photos by Lido Vannucchi, Stefania Spadoni, Fabrizio Marchesi. in the Mediterranean DietThe Mediterranean Diet is much more than a food pattern. Besides its longstanding tradition and prized guidelines lies a valuable cultural heritage, a rich and balanced lifestyle combining popular recipes, seasonal products, celebrations and cherished culinary habits. Nuts in the Mediterranean Diet display a significant role, although there are other fundamental ingredients that cannot be overlooked. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, seeds and olive oil are among the most recommended ingredients. Fish, eggs and white meats must be eaten weekly in moderation, and the intake of red meat and processed meat, sugar sweetened beverages and creams must be reduced. Needless to say that doing sport regularly and giving up smoking habits is very helpful when it comes to following a healthy lifestyle. As it may be observed, it is very important to give prominence to plant-based foods and monounsaturated fats. Nuts in the Mediterranean Diet, alongside virgin olive oil, are packed with monounsaturated fats and several antioxidants which may have anti-inflammatory effects, so they can help to prevent cardiovascular diseases. In addition, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables contain fiber and other phytochemicals. Benefits of Nuts in the Mediterranean Diet Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet in human health are supported by comprehensive scientific evidence. In addition, research about the role of nuts in the Mediterranean Diet does exist too. According to the PREDIMED study, a Mediterranean Diet rich in plant-based foods,  such us nuts (almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts) or extra virgin olive oil, and without calorie restriction, has been linked to weight loss and less gain in waist circumference compared to a low-fat diet. Results come from a large randomized trial published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. The PREDIMED study suggests that current guidelines recommending a low-fat diet may create unnecessary fear based on healthy fats present in the Mediterranean Diet. Cardiovascular Diseases Nuts in the context of the Mediterranean Diet may help to prevent peripheral artery disease (PAD). According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, compared to the advice to follow a low fat-diet, a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with nuts or extra-virgin olive oil reduced the risk of peripheral artery disease. PAD is a condition by which blood supply to the arms, legs, stomach or kidneys is hampered due to fat being deposited in the arteries. The aforementioned PREDIMED study has also researched on cardiovascular diseases. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that adoption of the Mediterranean Diet enriched with tree nuts or olive oil decreased the incidence of major cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction, stroke or cardiovascular mortality, among high-risk persons. In other words, the incidence of these events and the mortality associated to them might be lower for someone joining the Mediterranean Diet supplemented with a handful of nuts a day compared to someone consuming a low-fat diet. Tell us about you! Is the Mediterranean Diet part of your eating habits? Role of Prunes in Bone HealthAs the demographic shift to an older population continues, a growing number of men and women will be diagnosed with osteoporosis and a search for potential non-pharmacological alternative therapies is increasing. In addition to existing drug therapies, certain lifestyle and nutritional factors are known to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. The benefits of prune consumption for osteoporosis and their role in total body bone mineral density (BMD) loss have been supported by scientific research in both animal studies and clinical trials. Prunes are high in fiber, vitamin K, which contributes to the maintenance of normal bones, and potassium, which contributes to normal muscle function. Prunes are also a source of copper, which contributes to maintenance of normal connective tissues. Research in Prunes Research in prunes has increased beginning with studies of their potential in restoring bone and preventing bone loss in animal models of osteoporosis. Some animal studies suggest that fruit consumption with antioxidant content may have a pronounced effect on bone health, as shown by higher bone mass, trabecular bone (a.k.a. spongy bone) volume, number and thickness, and lower trabecular separation (which puts the person at risk of osteoporosis) by enhancing bone formation, suppressing bone resorption and increasing bone strength. The bone protection effects seem to be mediated via antioxidant or anti-inflammatory pathways leading to osteoblast mineralization and osteoclast inactivation. Benefits Associated to Prunes According to a randomized controlled trial published last year, prune (dried plum) consumption may prevent the loss of total body BMD in older osteopenic postmenopausal women. Forty-eight osteopenic (bone mineral density is lower than normal but not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis) women (65-79 years old) were randomly assigned into one of three treatment groups for six months: 50 g of prunes, 100 g of prunes or a control group.   All groups were supplemented with calcium and vitamin D. Total body, hip and lumbar bone mineral density were evaluated at baseline and six months after using DEXA. In addition, several markers of bone metabolism were determined during the trial. Data revealed that both prune groups were able to prevent the loss of total body bone mineral density when compared to the control group. This effect has been explained in part to the ability of prunes to inhibit bone reabsorption. The study’s results support previous data on the role that prunes may play in bone health, especially in older postmenopausal women. and Christmas, a perfect marriageWe are not mistaken if we say that Christmas have become one of the most festive seasons of the year, especially at Western cultures. Beyond its Catholic origins, there are many traditions associated to Christmas. Some of them stem from deep rooted cultural manifestations, while others arise from modern lifestyles. Irrespective of cultures, countries or languages, nuts and Christmas have been closely connected through history, resulting in a perfect marriage turning visible not only in meals or traditional recipes, but also highlighting the value of some habits. Indeed, who has not ever used a nutcracker as a Christmas decoration? Although there are plenty of reasons to include nuts within your Christmas choices, here you have 4 of the most healthy and festive points. Four Reasons to Enjoy Nuts and Christmas: 1- It goes without saying that the following weeks will be packed with well-dressed gastronomic meetings, either with friends, colleagues or family. Nuts are a healthy snack due to their unsaturated fats, antioxidant capacity and nutritional composition, for instance, fiber and magnesium, among others. A recent study published in the Journal BMC Medicine observed that compared to those that rarely consume nuts, people who eat at least 20 g of nuts per day may have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases such as diabetes. 2- Inspiring flavors and adding layers of texture result in a pivotal goal pursued by each and every chef, either professional or amateur, willing to touch his/her dinner guest’s feelings. Paired with salmon or chicken, or even seasoning a salad, nuts and dried fruits are able to take our dishes to an upper level thanks to creativity and mixture of flavors. 3- When it comes to traditional cuisine, nuts and Christmas works wonder with desserts. The festive season about to start affords many moments to enjoy a long chat while having a cup of tea accompanied by a Christmas dessert in the form of sweet or candy. Mediterranean countries like Spain produce a traditional sweet called Turrón which, among other ingredients, may include almonds and hazelnuts. They are rich in protein, fiber, vitamin E and minerals. Pine nuts, considered a good source of fiber, potassium and riboflavin (vitamin B2), and raisins also get on well with Christmas desserts in many combinations. Raisins are low in sodium, high in potassium and a good source of fiber and minerals such as phosphorus, manganese and copper. 4- Last but not least, the festive spirit of Christmas is strongly supported by gifts. We are not referring to its monetary value but to its symbolism, the meaning enclosed by a present not only for the person who gives it, but also for the one who receives the gift. Have you ever filled your Christmas stockings with nuts waiting for Santa Claus’ arrival? Its commonplace in some cultures to offer some candies, nuts, fruits or small gifts to Santa Claus and Rudolph. Nuts and Christmas are everywhere at this time of the year. It reminds us that nuts and dried fruits may result in a perfect gift for a special or beloved person. Nuts are a gourmet product able to add both a distinctive and healthy touch to our Christmas gifts. Tell us about your experiences with nuts and Christmas. Are nuts and healthy eating habits within your New Year’s resolutions?"When cooking without meat, or even with meat, nuts and dried fruits add a deep flavor and layers of texture plus good nutrients"Mollie Katzen, cookbook author Mollie Katzen is the author of one of the best-selling vegetarian cookbook of all time (the famous Moosewood Cookbook). However, being considered the most influential personality of vegetarian cuisine in America does not prevent her from using meat in some of her culinary creations. With a combined six million copies in print, Mollie Katzen has been named by Health Magazine as “one of the five women who changed the way we eat”. After publishing 12 books in the last three decades, she likes to present herself as a cookbook author instead of a chef. Readers will note that Mollie Katzen cannot deny the great influence art has played in her career. Indeed, she is the author of the artworks adorning some of her books. Mollie Katzen style in cuisine is… Simple and basic, featuring vegetables and fruit in season, legumes, whole grains, nuts, herbs, and healthy oils. Which has been the main contribution you brought to vegetarian cuisine? I was one of the early cookbook authors to publish vegetarian cuisine before it was known as a cuisine. How has the food industry evolved since the Moosewood Cookbook was first released in the 70s? Healthy plant-based cooking and eating have been embraced, and people have moved away from needing to have a large (or any) portion of meat at the center of the plate. For current generations, is vegetarianism a way of life or just a passing trend? I think that eating more plants and plant-based food is a way of life and not a passing trend. Meat may come and go, but the plant orientation will likely stay. Not being a chef, your life would have been oriented to… I am actually not a chef. I am a cookbook author. My interests center on art, literature, music and philosophy in addition to food. Apart from a distinguished cookbook author, Mollie Katzen is an artist. What has resulted from the fusion you have made between fine arts and cooking? You are very kind.  The fact that my education was in fine arts, in particular, painting and drawing, led me to approach food from a very visual angle, and the natural beauty of the plant world dovetailed perfectly with this. I believe that the dinner plate should be beautiful and compelling, and that people eat “with their eyes” as well as with their other senses. Who would you define as the person inspiring you the most in your career? Anna Thomas, author of The Vegetarian Epicure. Pre-packed foods is a category growing fast in US supermarkets. How can we encourage people to cook more at home? Acquaint people with the joy of a good, sharp knife! I do believe that is the key. Your best plan for having dinner at home on Friday night is… Lots of green vegetables, ideally from my garden, prepared with a very good olive oil and some garlic. A little bit of pasta (about half the volume of the vegetables) and some roasted walnuts and diced sweet tomatoes, if in season. What is the role nuts and dried fruits play in your cuisine? Nuts and dried fruits play a very large role, walnuts especially. When cooking without meat, or even with meat, they add a deep flavor and layers of texture, plus good nutrients. I like to use dried fruit as a counterpoint to strongly flavored bitter vegetables to balance out the taste and make things more interesting and sometimes even playful. They can give a good edge to the flavor. Do you have a special way to combine nuts and dried fruits in your culinary creations? I am very flexible with these favored ingredients, and like to switch up the combinations in many ways. There are no rules! One of my favorite contexts for combining nuts and dried fruit is to toss them into cooked rice or a cold grain salad. Benefits of Eating Nuts and Dried FruitsBenefits of nuts and dried fruits may help to improve our health and to prevent some diseases when included regularly in eating habits. Because of their interesting nutritional profile, some studies have evaluated the impact that nuts have on health and have observed an inverse association between the frequency of nut consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD), type 2 diabetes and body weight. In addition, traditional dried fruits also provide essential nutrients, such as fiber and potassium, and a wide range of phytochemicals that have been related to health promotion and antioxidant capacity. Both nuts and dried fruits can be consumed as a snack, on top of cereal, in yogurt, salads and pasta, and can provide us with some important health benefits. Cardiovascular Disease The benefits of nuts in relation to CVD  have been widely supported by both epidemiological and clinical trials. Scientific studies have clearly demonstrated that nut consumption has a cholesterol-lowering effect in the context of a healthy diet. CVD is the number one cause of death in the world. According to the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), high blood pressure (hypertension) is the major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and its prevalence is expected to increase considerably in the coming years. In fact, hypertension is expected to increase to 1.56 billion people worldwide by 2025. Nuts are low in sodium, which has been related to a lower risk of hypertension in some studies. In a 2009 scientific paper, researchers observed that nut consumption was associated with a lower risk of hypertension. A study published in 2015 observed that tree nut intake was associated with a decrease in total cholesterol, LDL, “bad,” cholesterol and triglycerides. It also asserted that nut consumption in general, rather than just a specific type, was the major reason for the decrease. A new systematic review and meta-analysis of 18 high quality clinical studies, published in 2016, also reported that almond consumption reduces both total and bad (LDL and non-HDL) cholesterol levels. According to another study, walnuts may improve endothelial function, decrease both oxidative stress and some markers of inflammation, and increase cholesterol efflux. There have been some scientific studies on dried fruits and cardiometabolic risk factors suggesting that they can help lower the postprandial insulin response, modulate sugar absorption, promote satiety and have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. In a study published in 2009, researchers observed that simply replacing one unhealthy snack per day with fruits, dried fruits or unsalted nuts was associated with lower cardiovascular risk, which may prevent approximately 6,000 cases of CVD per year in the UK. Benefits of Nuts in Weight Control Nuts not only offer nutritional benefits, but may help to control body weight. This is especially important as obesity rates continue to rise across developed nations. While nuts have a high energy content, several studies found that frequent nut consumption was not associated with a higher body mass index. Some research has shown that nuts may have high satiety properties. In fact, long-term nut consumption is associated with lower weight gain and overweight/obesity. Type 2 Diabetes Benefits of nuts may also help reduce the risk of diabetes. The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014, becoming a serious public health problem. A number of studies have investigated the effect of nut consumption on diabetes risk. In particular, a 2011 PREDIMED study observed a 52% reduction in diabetes incidence in two experimental groups supplemented with olive oil or 30 g (1 oz) of nuts (a mix of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) per day, compared with the control group. Research suggests that dried fruit consumption is also good for people who have diabetes. A study by Louisville Metabolic and Atherosclerotic Research Center observed that consuming raisins as an alternative to processed snacks resulted in a significant 23% reduction in postprandial glucose levels. Gastrointestinal Function Dried fruits are well-known sources of dietary fiber, which has a direct effect on gastrointestinal function. In 2013, prunes were granted a specific EU health claim for their contribution to digestive health. The permitted health claim reads: “Dried plums/prunes contribute to normal bowel function”. Eating 100 g of prunes (3.5 oz, 8-12 pieces) daily promotes good digestive health and provides more than 19% of the daily recommended intake of fiber. There is also scientific evidence that suggests that prunes may improve stool frequency and consistency in cases of constipation. Osteoporosis Osteoporosis is a debilitating disorder that affects both men and women. Aside from existing drug therapies, certain lifestyle and nutritional factors are known to reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Among nutritional factors, recent observations suggest that prunes may be helpful in both preventing and reversing bone loss. In addition, a 2011 study suggests that prunes may improve the bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. Did you know about the benefits of nuts and dried fruits? Do you include them within your regular eating habits? role of nuts in a vegan dietBy Nucis Germany. Ute Dujardin (Dipl.-Oecotroph.). Nutritionist at the Clinic for Internal, Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Essen. In recent years there has been a slow but continuous increase in attraction to vegetarian or even vegan diets, especially among younger individuals. They offer many health benefits but in order to avoid nutritional deficiencies and to provide all essential nutritional components a vegan diet needs to be planned with more consideration and more knowledge than an omnivorous. Including nuts in a vegan diet can be a cornerstone in a well-balanced and palatable food-pattern. What does vegan mean? A vegan diet is a strict form of vegetarianism and is characterized by the total avoidance of products derived from animals. Vegans do not consume any kind of meat, seafood, dairy-products, eggs or any other animal product, such as honey or gelatin. A balanced vegan diet is consisting of plant based foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. There are only few studies including vegans as an experimental group, but when vegan diets are directly compared to vegetarian and omnivorous diets, they show a variety of protective health benefits. Vegetarian diets conferred protection against metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and also some cancers. Vegan diets in particular provided additional protection against obesity, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular mortality and showed a reduced risk of incidence from total cancer. Health benefits of nuts A current scientific review pointed out that higher nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular diseases, that are still No. 1 when it comes to causes of death worldwide, according to the WHO-statistics. However, a 100 % plant-based diet may increase the risk of certain nutritional deficiencies including protein, iron, zinc, calcium, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 and vegans needs to plan the composition of their nutrition with due care. Adding various kinds of nutrient-dense nuts makes a significant contribution to a vegan diet because each kind of nut offers different dietary benefits. Nuts do not only provide energy, complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index, fiber and essential fatty acids but also high amounts of protein. Pistachios, almonds  and peanuts are among the protein-rich foods, only 50 g of pistachios contain more protein than a typical egg. The combination of fiber, protein and fat in nuts provides satiety to meals and snacks. Whereas in a mixed diet vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is covered by milk-products and cheese vegans can add almonds, pistachios and cashews. Walnuts are an excellent source of alpha-linolenic acid, an important essential omega 3 fatty acid. Macadamias provide the highest content of health-promoting monounsaturated fatty-acids and are also rich in omega-7-fatty-acids, which are getting more into the scientific focus. Nuts contribution into a vegan diet Calcium can be obtained from plant-based foods like almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts and brazil nuts. In addition, the last mentioned has the highest coverage of selenium. When it comes to the supply for zinc, vegans need to make smart choices because the highest amounts are naturally found in animal products like meat and cheese. Again, nuts can make a contribution, especially brazil nuts and pine nuts. It is more difficult to obtain iron from plant-based foods, but the combination with vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables helps absorbing iron from cashews, almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts. If people choose to live raw-vegan they do not eat cooked foodstuffs. Nuts in a vegan diet are even more important diet because vegans exclude legumes as protein-sources from their diet. Nuts in a vegan diet do not only provide essential nutrients to prevent deficiencies and one-sidedness but are also an enrichment in flavor and variety. Nuts are characterized by being “ready to eat” and easy to transport as a snack. They can be added to various dishes either cooked, raw or soaked and finely ground for spreads, ice-cream and milk. It can be expected, that vegan eaters can boost the demand for nuts. How do you perform? If vegan, do you include nuts in your choices? Fruits: Dispelling the Sugar MythsBy Jennette Higgs, Consultant Dietitian. California Prune Board. Traditional dried fruits have historically been considered a nutritious snack choice in parts of the world where abundant sunshine enabled drying fruits for preservation, such as the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. Clarifying some misconceptions, perpetuated as myths, about sugar concentration in dried fruits has become a matter of great importance. Traditional dried fruits provide dietary fibre, are virtually fat and salt-free and each provide a range of essential micronutrients, such as potassium, copper, manganese, iron and vitamins A, E, K and niacin.  Being a carbohydrate food, dried fruits tend to be higher in sugars and given the current emphasis on sugar reduction their wholesome track record is being brought into question, especially in regions where dried fruits were not historically a local food. Increasingly, ‘free’ or ‘added’ sugars are being reviewed by some health experts, due to the association of high sugar intakes with poor dietary quality, obesity and increased risk of non-communicable diseases – heart disease, cancers, diabetes, asthma and dental diseases being the most prevalent globally.  Free sugars include monosaccharides and disaccharides added to foods and beverages by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.  A World Health Organization report recommends reducing free/added sugar to less than 10% of daily energy intakes, with consideration for additional reductions down to 5%. Origins of sugar myths in dried fruits Apparently, emphasis is on reducing sugar-sweetened beverages and the sugar contributed by fruit juices and smoothies, because of the large volumes of these energy-rich drinks consumed to simply quench thirst!  Unlike the whole fruit, their juices tend to be low in dietary fibre, the protective health role of which is well recognised. The UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends increasing fibre from 25g to 30g/day, alongside reducing free/added sugars to less than 5% energy. So, are dried fruits being recommended by health professionals as part of the solution? It seems not, for a number of reasons: The popularity of processed fruit snacks, with varying quantities of fruit pieces, fruit juice concentrate and other forms of added sugar (e.g.,  glucose syrup in yoghurt coatings), is blurring the boundaries between confectionary at one end (high free/added sugar) and traditional dried fruits (with no added sugar) at the other. Processed fruit snacks with added sugar have been promoted as healthy, some boasting a contribution to 5-a-day and convenient for children’s lunch boxes, with consumers not until now questioning this claim.  A 2015 UK survey of children’s healthy fruit snacks revealed that 85% contained over 4tsp sugar/serving- that’s more than most sweets.  Such reports have contributed to the industry taking a more discerning look at the role of fruit and sugar, but there’s a long way to go since it seems consumers and health professionals alike do not automatically distinguish between fruits with added sugar and those that are 100% pure fruit.  As nutrition professionals, policy makers and consumers review the role of foods with added sugar in a healthful diet, the industry is encouraged to take steps that consistently communicate the nutrient benefits of traditional dried fruits without added sugar. Oral health issues Furthermore, traditional dried fruits are being included on lists of foods to be limited to mealtimes due to their supposed detrimental effect on teeth. The UK’s NHS website states: ‘A 30g portion of dried fruit, such as currants, dates, sultanas and figs, counts as one of your 5 A DAY, but should be eaten at mealtimes, not as a between-meal snack, to reduce the impact on teeth’. This is a potentially serious case of urban myth, with supposition being perpetuated down the years, unchecked, then included as fact within new official health advice. The California Prune Board has taken this matter seriously and commissioned a review of the research literature to clarify matters. Oral health is a complex issue, and preliminary findings highlight a lack of consistent data such that more research is needed to recommend evidence-based practice. Early research focused on dried fruit sticking to teeth, but improved research methods challenge these assumptions. As an example, prunes can provide some potential dental health benefits, such as encouragement of salivary flow through chewing; anti-microbial properties due to their high polyphenol content; fibre’s cleansing action; and a low fermentability due to prunes high sorbitol content. As stated in a past article revolving around real facts about dried fruit sugar concentration, traditional dried fruit is simply fresh fruit with water removed, so whole dried fruit should be recognized as a convenient alternative to fresh.  Some key influencers only see the relative sugar content of dried fruit, so it’s been quite easy to adopt the dental health advice and recommend limiting consumption of dried fruit to mealtimes.  Positioning traditional dried fruit as a close cousin with confectionary rather than an option to their fresh fruit siblings is misguided and undermines their potential as a nutritious alternative to popular snacks that can be high in sugar, fat and salt. Health benefits of dried fruits An excellent report was published in 2011 summarising the view of scientists that traditional dried fruits could and should be considered alongside fresh and so contribute towards achieving the increased fruit and vegetable intakes so necessary for improved health outcomes. To correct misinformation, the dried fruit industry needs to communicate the nutrient content and potential health benefits of traditional dried fruits based on accurate and high quality research.  On balance, we can continue to enjoy some confectionary, so there’s a place for processed fruit snacks, but traditional dried fruits are the important food choices that can improve consumers’ snacking habits. What’s your opinion? Are dried fruits among your daily choices? Are Everywhere this SummerSummer time implies some minor changes in our daily habits. Menus, schedules and routines are somewhat altered by this wonderful season called summer. Nuts in summer result in a lovely and healthy choice fitting easily into each and every context. Nuts in summer, such as almonds, Amazonia (Brazil) nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts and peanuts, may help reduce the risk for chronic disease such as heart disease or diabetes. Most of the fat present in nuts is unsaturated or ‘good’ fat (i.e., mono- and polyunsaturated fats). Nuts have important nutrients, including protein, fiber and phytochemicals. They are also a great source of vitamins such as folic acid, niacin and vitamins E and B6, and minerals like magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and potassium. Just a handful (or one ounce) of nuts per day can provide you with these nutritional benefits. Here you have some easy, healthy and delicious ways to mix and match your favorite nuts with any food. Try them and go nuts! Nuts in Summer: Breakfast Sprinkle chopped nuts on yogurt, hot or cold cereal, or in cream cheese spreads for bagels. Add chopped macadamias or pistachios to your favorite bread, pancake, waffle or muffin recipe. Pasta Pine nuts have always been the secret ingredient to a tasty pesto, but other nuts can also add flavor. Sprinkled on top or mixed in with a sauce, nuts give a special flair to any pasta dish. Fettuccini with toasted walnuts is always a hit. Soups Sprinkle chopped nuts on a bowl of soup for added flavor and texture. For example, garnish potato soup with minced pecans or a hearty split pea with hazelnuts. Snacks Nuts in summer are perfect as a tasty snack between meals, and research has shown that they may keep you full longer. For better portion control, divide your favorite nuts into 1-handful portions and store them in individual bags. This way, you can simply grab a bag of nuts on your way out the door, or keep several bags on hand in the car or in your desk, for easy snacking. Veggies Nutty vinaigrettes made with chopped hazelnuts or Brazil nuts add flavor to steamed vegetables... even the pickiest of eaters may give them a try! Entrees Toss finely diced, toasted almonds into a ginger shrimp sauté or add toasted cashews to Chinese vegetable stir-fry dishes. Sprinkle chopped mixed nuts on your favorite casseroles. Appetizers Top softened Brie or Camembert cheese with chopped pistachios for a simple, elegant treat. Add your favorite nut to any cheese and cracker platter, or simply serve them straight up in a festive bowl! Salads Restaurants often serve creative salads with various nuts and dried fruits. Do the same at home by adding whole, sliced or chopped nuts to your favorite salad recipes. For instance, toss pecans and/or walnuts with blue cheese or Gorgonzola to add zip to a spinach salad; or garnish chicken salad with slivered almonds. Desserts Nuts are wonderful in baked goods such as cookies, cakes and brownies, but you can also sprinkle them on top of ice cream, frozen yogurt and parfaits. Toss chopped macadamias and other nuts with fresh fruit for a light and tasty dessert.“Great texture and depth of flavor are the best qualities of nuts and dried fruits in cuisine”Christopher Kostow Chef at The Restaurant at Meadowood and INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy 2016 Christopher Kostow,  is a Chicago native, trained in kitchens far and wide: from a Paris bistro to the Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier. He soon became top toque at Chez TJ in Mountain View, California, garnering the restaurant many accolades including two Michelin stars. Upon arriving at The Restaurant Meadowood in February of 2008, Christopher maintained two Michelin Stars, was nominated for Best Chef: Pacific by the James Beard Foundation and named as one of Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs 2009. In February 2010, Christopher garnered a rare four stars in the San Francisco Chronicle and was soon awarded with the highest ranking of three Michelin Stars from the esteemed 2011 Guide. Christopher is the second American-born chef and third youngest chef ever to receive three Michelin stars. Christopher and The Restaurant at Meadowood team have since retained the three stars from Michelin in the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 editions of the San Francisco Bay Area & Wine Country Restaurants Guide; as well as the four stars in San Francisco Chronicle. He has made his debut as a writer with the book A New Napa Cuisine. Christopher Kostow had already received three Michelin Stars at the age of 34. Being so young, did it change you somewhat? Earning three stars certainly provides some confidence and encouragement to continue on the path that you are on.  It truly made me appreciative of the contributions that everyone has made to those stars (because they are certainly not mine), including the front of house, kitchen team and our financial partners. Were you to mention a mentor as a chef, who would you choose? I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing chefs. Daniel Humm has an uncompromising sense of quality and Trey Foshee is very good at showing the context, why things have value and the value of good products. You have a degree in Philosophy. Does that experience help you in your work? It teaches you how to absorb information and distill it into something more personal. How has the project evolved since you arrived at The Restaurant at Meadowood in February 2008? It's an entirely different restaurant - more personal and less formal. It is more creative and artistic. The food, the service, and the physical space has changed as a reflection of those things. You aim to open a new restaurant in the short term. What will make The Charter Oak different from The Restaurant at Meadowood? It will be a more casual experience with a lower price point and seemingly simpler style of cooking. Simple is often times harder to accomplish. The experience will be familiar and celebratory. The Charter Oak will have the same ethos of good products and good cooking as The Restaurant. Why Napa Valley has had a major influence on your perception of cooking? I’m constantly inspired by the beauty of this place and the creative and dynamic people who live here. What makes a dish memorable? First and foremost, that it's delicious, that it showcases the product in a way you haven't seen before. That it’s intelligent in its simplicity. Which are the main trends emerging in cuisine? Hyper-locality and live-fire cooking are not necessarily emerging but something that is being discussed more often. Revisiting and re-examining the dining process as a whole is also a topic of conversation. What’s the way you combine nuts and dried fruits in your culinary creations? California is home to America's premiere nut and fruit growing regions, including Napa Valley which, for example, has a long history as a producer of walnuts and prunes. We certainly try to incorporate those products in our cooking today. We use unripe walnuts for nocino, Armenian style black walnuts, and dried fruits in many preparations; it’s something that we are very mindful of. In your opinion, what are the best qualities nuts and dried fruit can add to your cuisine? Certainly, great texture and depth of flavor. health research comes down to earthOuter space fascinates us – witness the popularity of the epic space adventures in the Star Wars series, and The Martian; or watching news coverage of the tethering adventures of astronauts. Weightlessness looks like a lot of fun, but when bones don’t have to fight Earth’s gravitational pull, there is less mechanical strain on our skeletal system, leading to bone loss (attention sedentary Earthlings). Consequences of low bone mass Bones support our body and resist fracture through a balance of bone formation and breakdown – this dynamic process is called “remodeling.” Lack of stress on the bones slows the formation of the bone-building osteoblast cells. In an environment with less gravity, and lower bone-loading stimuli, bone breakdown (resporption) increases and with no change or possibly decreased bone formation, astronauts can lose about 1-2% of bone mass in a month. To put this into perspective, bone loss proceeds at the rate of about 0.5% to 1% per year from the age of approximately 40 years in both genders, although in women this loss is increased in the first three to five years after menopause. Space travelers aren’t the only ones at risk for bone loss. About 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass, which places the latter at increased risk for osteoporosis. Studies suggest that approximately one in two women and up to one in four men age 50 and older will break a bone due to osteoporosis.   Bone loss in those exposed to radiation In addition, astronauts are exposed to ionizing radiation that can increase oxidative damage in skeletal tissues and lead to an imbalance in the dynamics of bone building and breakdown. Animal research, published in Scientific Reports looked at the effect of various antioxidant or anti-inflammatory interventions – including an antioxidant cocktail, ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory), dried plum powder (antioxidant) and a control – on mice that received radiation. Mice on the dried plum diet did not lose bone volume in any of the bone structural parameters measured. According to Bernard Halloran, PhD, professor of medicine, University of California, San Francisco, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center who was involved in the study: “Preserving bone strength during space travel is a serious issue faced by astronauts. Radiation-induced bone loss resembles the age-related structural changes of osteoporosis. But health concerns remain with current remedies, such as secondary effects from drug treatments. This preliminary research provides promising hope that something as easy as eating prunes may be able to counter the negative aspects of space travel on bone health.” Prunes may help support healthy bones Like venturing into space, research on prunes is about discovering the unexpected. Who would have thought that research begun two decades ago would establish prunes’ role in improving bone health by slowing the rate of bone breakdown and/or acting as an antioxidant/anti-inflammatory to protect bone-building cells? While calcium and vitamin D are recommended for favorable effects on bone, the nutrients in prunes associated with bone health – potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, boron and bioactive compounds (polyphenol antioxidants) – have sparked research. Bahram Arjmandi, PhD, RD, Florida State University, who led an early team of investigators, said that while several foods have bone protective effects, it was prunes’ ability to reverse bone loss in animals that really got his attention. He and other members of his team have continued to investigate prunes’ role in supporting healthy bones and established a thread of research from cells, to male and female animal models of hormone deficient osteoporosis, to clinical trials. Post menopausal women who consumed 5-6 prunes per day (about 50 g) for 6 months or 10-12 (about 100 g) for 1 year had improved bone biomarkers and protection against the decline in bone mineral density (BMD) in several sites measured. Other researchers have looked at the ability of prunes to increase bone volume and restore bone loss in an animal model of aging. Research on attaining peak bone mass in growing animals is pending publication. The Payload Although genetics play a role in determining bone mass, other lifestyle factors such as nutritious food choices, including prunes, and physical activity can help slow or prevent bone loss. Bone health isn’t just for women or seniors. It is important for everyone, including children, to achieve strong bones during growth and development to help reach peak bone mass. Prunes and physical activity go hand and hand – prunes are a good on the go snack and staying active is important for overall health and strong bones. This article has been submitted by the California Dried Plum Board role of nuts to help reduce the risk of diabetesDiabetes is becoming a matter for global public health, according to a study published recently by the World Health Organization (WHO) in The Lancet. The study shows that the number of adults with diabetes has quadrupled worldwide since the last four decades to 422 million. Incidence of diabetes has risen significantly in many low- and middle-income countries. Diabetes and public health There are many reasons behind these alarming rates, but some of them are linked to changes in lifestyles, resulting in people being less active and taking overly processed diets. “This unhealthy diet does not only increase blood glucose levels but it also leads to an increase in body weight which further increases the risk of developing diabetes”, claims Cyril Kendall, PhD at the department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto. Adopting nutritional healthy habits is essential to prevent and treat diabetes. It must be noted that before type 2 diabetes being diagnosed, there are some disorders in glucose and insulin levels experienced by patients. These disturbances are silent, not rising awareness in patients. This is the reason why this state is called prediabetes. It means that blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not as high as are diabetic patients. According to the International Diabetes Federation, there are almost 900 million people with prediabetes. Actions aimed at controlling or reversing prediabetes may lower a person’s risk of getting type 2 diabetes and this is the point where these nutritional healthy habits enter to play a major role. Nuts are among the foods that may help prediabetic and diabetic patients to decrease their fasting glucose and insulin resistance. The role of nuts to prevent diabetes There is scientific evidence suggesting that the inclusion of pistachios into a balanced diet can be a safe nutritional strategy to reverse the risks associated with prediabetes. What this study shows is that a pistachio-rich diet has beneficial effects on glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, inflammation and other related markers. Due to its high content in fiber and proteins, among others, pistachios may help reduce rises in glucose and insulin levels.  A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health indicates that plant protein, including peanuts and peanut butter, may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. In addition, the PREDIMED study showed that following a Mediterranean diet, with 30 g of nuts per day, reduced the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 52% in people with high cardiovascular risk aged between 55 and 80 years, who where non-diabetic when the study began.  Besides its multiple beneficial properties (, nuts help reduce the glycemic index (GI), increasing insulin resistance. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce the amount of insulin the body needs, or it is of an inferior quality. Type 2 diabetes, which represents between 90 and 95% of all cases of diabetes, occurs in adulthood (after the age of 40), and it is usually associated with overweight and a lack of physical activity, among other risk factors such as hypertension. What’s about your experience? Did you know about the benefits of nuts to help reduce the risk of diabetes? to lower cholesterolCholesterol is a fatty substance present in each and every human cell. Despite its bad reputation, cholesterol is essential for a proper functioning of the human body. This bad reputation lays in the fact that raised cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. According to the WHO, raised total cholesterol is a major cause of disease burden in both developed and developing countries, estimating to cause 2,6 million deaths. Types of cholesterol The largest part of cholesterol is produced in the human liver, although it is also obtained from some aliments. Generally speaking, there are two types of cholesterol in blood: · High density lipoproteins (HDL) or “good” cholesterol: These lipoproteins are able to collect the cholesterol and fats that are circulating through the blood and lead them to the human liver, preventing fat from accumulating on the walls of the veins. · Low density lipoproteins (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol: They work to transport the cholesterol to the body tissues. However, this type of cholesterol in excess, it might gather on the walls of the veins, accelerating the atherosclerosis process, and finally preventing the blood from circulating towards the heart. High levels of this “bad” cholesterol increase the risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Daily habits and diet play an important role when it comes to controlling cholesterol levels. A diet high in saturated fats, the absence of physical activity and smoking habits tend to increase blood cholesterol levels. On the contrary, a diet high in unsaturated fats tends to lower blood cholesterol levels. Nuts may help lower cholesterol levels Being introduced within a balanced diet and lifestyle, nuts are among the foods that may have a positive effect when it comes to increasing the levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol, while consistently lowering the LDL or “bad” cholesterol. These benefits stem from nuts composition, containing proteins, fiber, healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. There is scientific evidence showing that tree nut consumption (walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, pecans, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts) lowers total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides when hypertriglyceridemia exist. Another study points to the same conclusion. Researchers studied 245 overweight and obese women (between 22 and 27 years old) enrolled in a one-year weight loss intervention. Participants were randomly assigned to three different diets. Besides decreasing levels of LDL cholesterol, results showed that walnut participants achieved an increase in HDL cholesterol levels compared to the other diet groups. Just a handful of nuts per day may help to lower cholesterol levels. There are many options to introduce them in your daily habits, resulting in tasty dishes to be enjoyed at any time of the day. You can sprinkle sliced or chopped nuts to your favorite salads recipes or add them to your preferred pasta meals. At breakfast, a bowl of yogurt with nuts on tope is always necessary have. What’s your preferred option? Are you taking nuts to help lower cholesterol? and dried fruits may help to prevent osteoporosisFeatured by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue, osteoporosis is a disease affecting millions of people around the globe. Bones lose their strength and are more likely to break after a minor fall. Fractures provoked by osteoporosis may happen on different parts of the human body. However, wrists, hips and spine are subject to major risk. Women are more susceptible to suffer from osteoporosis Although osteoporosis not only affects women, they are more susceptible to suffer from this disease because bone loss is accelerated after the menopause, when hormone levels decrease. Indeed, according to the UK National Osteoporosis Society, one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 experience fractures, mainly as a result of low bone strength. It has many great consequences, not only because health and wellness standards decrease as people get older, but also because such fractures bring considerable economic burden for governments and health services worldwide. According to the WHO, diet appears to have a moderate relationship to osteoporosis. However, for older people there is convincing evidence that the risk of osteoporosis might be reduced with sufficient intake of vitamin D, calcium and physical activity. Nuts are among the foods that may help to prevent osteoporosis, as they provide calcium and proteins. In addition, there is scientific evidence proving that dried fruits may promote bone health. Research conducted with dried plums indicates that they have a role in supporting bone health. A study from Florida State University, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, proved the effect of prunes to reverse bone loss. A group of postmenopausal women were given 100 grams of prunes per day and were compared to a second group consuming 100 grams of dried apples. Results showed that, after 12 months, the group subject to the prunes enriched diet significantly increased bone mineral density in the ulna (one of two long bones in the forearm) and spine, in comparison with the group that ate dried apples. According to the authors of the study, this was due in part to the ability of prunes to suppress the breakdown of bone, which tends to exceed the rate of new bone growth as people age. Dried fruits nutrients to influence bone health Dried fruits are also a good source of nutrients, which are considered to influence bone health. These nutrients are calcium, magnesium, vitamin K and boron. Boron is estimated to have a role in osteoporosis prevention. Low boron intakes have been associated to impairment in bone strength. In addition, there are animal studies showing that dried plums reduce the loss of bone in different models of osteoporosis. Did you know about the properties of nuts and dried fruits to help prevent osteoporosis?“Dried fruits are wonderful when used in the right way, but they come to life with the addition of nuts”Alex Guarnaschelli, Food Network Celebrity Chef As the daughter of a cookbook editor and an Italian and Chinese cooking enthusiast, Alex Guarnaschelli was surrounded by food since her early steps. She had the best mentors to become a celebrity chef. Her parents, and the books her mother used to bring to home, served Alex as a source of valuable knowledge and esteem for cooking. After graduation, she decided to explore new culinary ingredients and moved to France to work and study. France was a rich and challenging experience to brush her skills, but it was Alex’s return to New York what gave her the opportunity to spring her wings. In 2003, Alex became the executive chef at New York City restaurant, Butter. Then, TV appeared in her life. She is a featured judge on Food Network’s Chopped and a celebrated Iron Chef who loves to get creative in the kitchen with the flavors of Fisher® nuts. She was one of the mentors in All-Star Academy and previously hosted Alex’s Day Off, which is airing on Cooking Channel. She is also working on a follow up book to her first, Old School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook, slated for publication in 2016. In the event of not being a chef, which would have been your vocation? I would have become a marine biologist without a doubt. Marine life fascinates me. I always joke that I started out wanting to catch and "tag" the elusive giant squid and ended up deep frying it in a kitchen instead. Do you usually cook when you are at home? I cook for my daughter a lot--she inspires me to do some tasty, simple home cooking. For years before I had her, I didn't so much as boil water in my apartment! Times change... What is never missing in your fridge? Capers, mustard, lemons, eggs and walnuts. Imagine it’s 10 PM and you are arriving late at home. What would you prepare for dinner? I'd likely make some "kitchen sink" salad from what I've got in the fridge. Maybe hard boil a few eggs, toss with some greens, golden raisins, walnuts with a quick lemon, caper and olive oil dressing. What or who is your source of inspiration as a chef? I love ingredients... I love to wander through a greenmarket and the supermarket too! I love casual dining. It inspires new thoughts. What do you think of this “boom” to bring haute cuisine to TV? I think food TV is actually taking haute cuisine techniques and applying it to super casual meals. It's not so much about caviar and lobster but about how to gain tips, techniques and skills to improve home cooking to the level of a professional chef. Does being creative depend just on the ingredients, or is there any secret for success? Creativity is so elusive. Sometimes just getting enough sleep and drinking a good cup of coffee can inspire the best ideas. Great ingredients, from great apples or tomatoes to great beef or nuts to great paprika makes the cooking easier. Flavors are sharper from the get-go! According to your experience, what has been more difficult for you? To convince the judges (as a contestant) or to judge the work of other competitors? Judging is more complex. Food is so subjective and people's choices are personal. Who am I to say that I don't "like" their idea? Technique and execution are places where some people excel more than others. It changes all the time. Most days, I'd much rather cook and be judged than the other way around! How do you combine nuts and dried fruits in your cuisine? I love nuts and dried fruit together in cooking. If I am making a trail mix for example, I love roasting walnuts and almonds together with salt and some paprika and tossing them with either dried apricots or prunes. If I am baking a coffee cake or other dessert, I like to stir some dried currants into the batter along with walnuts, for example, and then make a walnut streusel to top the cake as well. Dried fruits are wonderful when used in the right way but they come to life with the addition of nuts. I also love to make variations on salsa for roasted pork or even a white, flaky fish. What do nuts and dried fruits add to your dishes? Dried fruits are sweet but they are often more layered and complex than fresh fruit.  Nuts are so versatile depending on what you're making and what type of nut you are working with. I really love that almonds add a roasted flavor to both savory and sweet dishes. Walnuts add such tremendous richness. Walnuts can be ground and used as flour and can be used to thicken a sauce or vinaigrette. Which is the nut that it is always in your kitchen? I am really partial to walnuts. A few walnuts are a snack that actually fills me up! I also love walnuts with chocolate so when I make a chocolate dessert of any kind, I reach for walnuts! I also love them with pork or duck. I have even made broiled clams on the half shell with walnut breadcrumbs. Yum! reasons to include pistachios in your lifeWere we to find an image to illustrate what pistachios mean, we would definitely choose the picture of a superhero. They don’t wear a cape, neither do they have superpowers to show off in front of friends. However, these little green treats have many benefits for human health. Packed with many nutrients such as fiber, potassium, magnesium, zinc and vitamins, pistachios are not only a delicious snack to take between meals, but also healthy nut that may help with weight management, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. If pistachios aren’t in your life yet, let’s make room for them. 1.-Pistachios reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease as they are packed with a wide range of nutrients and bioactive compounds Fiber, healthy fats, phytosterols and antioxidant compounds (including polyphenols) contained in pistachios make them a heart healthy snack. As they are high in unsaturated fats, these can help to maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. 2.-Pistachios are a good ally for facing type 2 diabetes A significant body of scientific evidence has shown that eating pistachios is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. That is the conclusion, for instance, of a research conducted with a group of 54 prediabetic individuals. They consumed 2 diets for a period of 4 months: one was a pistachio supplemented diet (including 57 g per day) whilst the other was a control diet. Levels of insulin, glucose and other factors directly linked to diabetes were compared to those participants who did not consume pistachios within their diet. Findings showed that pistachios may have a glucose- and insulin-lowering effect, so they can help reduce the risk of diabetes type 2. 3.-The inclusion of pistachios on a diet don’t contribute to gain weight First of all, pistachios have a high fiber content and fiber is important for weight management and to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Secondly, it’s been proved that the act of shelling pistachios slows down consumption, resulting in fewer calories ingested. The visual effect of shells on the table acts as a reminder of portion control and helps individuals to moderate their consumption. In addition, the intake of pistachios as a snack may lead to a higher reduction of body mass index compared to a refined carbohydrate snack. 4.-The energy provided by pistachios helps muscle maintenance This is the reason why just a handful of pistachios per day can fuel human energy so as to optimize performance in a daily routine. Pistachios also contain vitamin E, which helps to protect human cells from oxidative stress and ageing. 5.-Pistachios improve sexual life as they contribute to treat erectile dysfunction in men There is scientific evidence showing that a pistachio diet improves erectile function and serum lipids in patients with erectile dysfunction. 6.-All these properties transform pistachios not only into a healthy snack, but also in a satisfying food to be enjoyed in partnership Set a table, bring a bowl full of pistachios and put aside time to be shared with your friends. Tell them your plans for next summer or pay attention to their stories, thoughts or beliefs about life. Friendship springs around a table, a soda drink and a handful of pistachios. Let yourself be seduced by its delicious taste and enjoy those precious moments. What’s your opinion? Which is your reason to include pistachios in your life?“Hazelnuts and pine nuts are premium ingredients in our cuisine”Marc Piqué, ice cream chef and runner-up in the Gelato World Cup 2016 Marc Piqué is more than a busy man these days. Apart from running the restaurant ‘Cal Sisquet’ (Tarragona), he must cope with some sort of an overnight popularity. He was part of the team awarded with the silver medal in the 2016 Gelato World Cup held in Riminy, Italy, last January. They worked hard to convince the jury with an ice cream based on hazelnuts and pine nuts, although they were overcome by the Italian team in the final stage. The Spanish team put forward different culinary creations, among which the ice cream sculpture entitled ‘The Forest’ was included. It was inspired in the Little Red Riding Hood story. Such an original contribution was depicted in a tree, growing from the ground to the sky and culminating with nuts on the top. Each and every element coexisting in such an imaginary forest was included, with flavors, textures and colors merging to produce a lively combination.  Italy was awarded with the gold medal by submitting a culinary creation inspired in the sea contrast. Every two years, the Gelato World Cup looks for the best ice cream chef in the globe. Participants hold a fair battle during four days so as to convince a severe jury. There are 13 countries working to the best to achieve the greatest award. All of them must prove their skilled passion through 9 hard tests. Teams are made by 5 members. The Spanish team was led by Antonio Sirvent, Marc Piqué, Judit Comes, Adolfo Romero and Mario Masiá. “We were very regular during the whole competition. It was our staging and the way we combined the ingredients what grabbed the jury’s attention”, says Marc Piqué.   What’s the secret to preparing an excellent ice cream? That’s a good question to respond, especially right now when we have been awarded in this international competition. First of all, you need good ingredients. Otherwise, you won’t be able to create an excellent ice cream. Secondly, some sort of skill in the hands of the one facing up the culinary creation is required. Another point to consider is your technical resources. Preparing a good ice cream requires machinery intervention, so you need an excellent equipment to achieve success.   Gelato World Cup 2016 was composed of 9 tests. What was the most difficult? To tell the truth, all the tests involved a great dose of complexity. We began to train for the World Cup one year ago. We have met thousands of times; we have conducted researches and worked on many proposals to find exactly what we wanted to submit at Rimini 2016. All the tests were difficult, but let me tell you that key element for success lies in how hard we have trained. We have worked a lot prior to the competition and nothing has been left to chance.   Why did you choose the Little Red Riding Hood story as a source of inspiration? We did it because we conducted a research about similar competitions throughout the world. We studied winning projects and conclusions showed us that these projects were based on a great deal of engagement with the public. Everybody knows the Little Red Riding Hood story. Characters in the story are featured by vivid colors, such as red, black or white. We have paid attention to these colors.  Moreover, these characters are really easy to identify. We find the grandma, the hunter or the wolf. There is also the forest, packed with elements playing a role in the culinary creation we were willing to depict.   What was the element most prized by the jury? There are many things, but were I to mention the most important thing I would say taste and texture, and also the team’s capacity to catch the jury’s attention by clear flavors. We didn’t want them to be stunned by the technical resources we used. We wanted to make them appreciate the taste of tradition. We knew that members of the jury had a great deal of experience, so we tried to convince them by using this kind of flavors and textures.   What was the role played by nuts in your creation? Nuts are able to add many things to an ice cream, so we tried to get their best so as to make an excellent ice cream. Hazelnuts and pine nuts are premium ingredients in our cuisine and that’s the reason why we decided to use them.   And the most important thing added by nuts to your cuisine? Nuts are rich in fiber and healthy fats, and this is something that must be taken into account when using them. An ice cream must be creamy, so texture and flavor must make it edible within a freezing temperature. If we wouldn’t consider nuts properties in our creations, the ice cream might be as hard as a rock, so it wouldn’t be edible. This is the reason why an accurate process of study is required before starting to combine elements. Proteins, fats and sugars contained in the ingredients featuring the ice cream must be observed in order to obtain a proper texture in the final result. it with nutsValentine’s Day has become one of the greatest expressions of how intense is the role played by the advertising industry in our life. Whether you have noticed it or not, once you set a foot on the street there are thousands of commercial messages willing to trespass on your right-side brain. Within this never-passing trend, we are seemingly forced to buy or bring some gift to say ‘hey, it’s me and you know I love you’. Irrespective of your level of engagement with Cupid’s arrows, every day provides us with many opportunities to express how deep is our love. Life is full of petty-actions which are able to transform a daily routine into a passionate moment. Don’t miss that opportunity to say how wonderful is your world next to that special person you share your life with. Although you have plenty of opportunities, we propose you 5 ways to say it with nuts on Valentine’s Day. Don’t be afraid to say “I’m nuts about you!” Say it out loud and don’t panic to disturb those surrounding you. I’m nuts about you means I love you. Indeed, it might lead us to believe that nuts lie on the deepest origin of love. Life is full of obstacles and uncertainty but don’t hesitate to succumb to its colorful and brightest part.   Bring the breakfast to bed It doesn’t matter if you have to work or you must set off early for a journey. Set your alarm a little bit earlier and bring your partner the breakfast to bed. It won’t cost you more, as there are many alternatives to make it cheap and healthy. We propose you to try a nut yogurt. Chop fresh fruits and add some mixed nuts on top. Nuts are rich in protein and fiber, which is an excellent natural energy booster for the rest of the day. Go running with your partner Valentine’s Day might be a great chance to start doing sport. February is not too late to recover those old New Year’s resolutions that seemed forgotten in the deepest spot of your mind. Convince your partner to go running for just half an hour. It might be the beginning of an endless habit, or just a simple way to break the dull routine. Don’t forget to take a handful of nuts with you after the physical activity. They are packed with minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Nuts are a good source of unsaturated fats (mono- and polyunsaturated) and have a low proportion of saturated fats, so they are good to prevent cardiovascular diseases and cholesterol. Express your passion for love Don’t hide your passion behind repetitive excuses such as stress or tiredness. Seek a moment of privacy and make love. Whether it is Valentine’s Day or not, everyday provides us with scenes to unleash our passion. You must know that nuts are among the foods containing vitamin E, which helps to increase blood flows.  Watch a romantic movie before going to bed  Spare a moment to recall a romantic scene you watch in that movie. Cinema has awarded us with unforgettable moments that will remain forever in our memory. Maybe tonight is a good moment to take a seat on your coach, relax for a while and see that adored film. Do you have qualms about what to choose? Let’s try with Ghost, The Notebook, Love Actually or One Day. Take some nuts as a snack, as they are healthy and tasty. Bear in mind that the portion of nuts recommended fits in a handful. Which are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Are you planning to say it with nuts?, a good ally to prevent cancerCancer is considered one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide According to WHO, in 2012 there were 8.2 million of deaths related to cancer, and the number of new cases is expected to rise by about 70% over the next two decades. Regardless of the great progresses achieved by medicine, there isn’t still a universal remedy to fight against oncological pathologies, as there are many factors that may unleash the appearance of cancer cells. However, what it’s been proved is that there are some habits that may affect the incidence of cancer. According to WHO, around one third of cancer deaths are caused by 5 leading behavioural dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol consumption. Avoiding these habits is essential to prevent not only cancer, but also some cardiovascular diseases that may affect our quality of life. At the same time, the introduction of proper dietary guidelines in our daily routine can protect us from some pathologies, including cancer. Nut consumption may reduce incidence of several types of cancer There is scientific evidence showing that eating 2 or 3 servings (57-84 g g) of nuts per week can reduce the risk of several types of cancer, such as breast, colon, and pancreatic cancer. This is due to nuts composition, containing vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, arginine, plant sterols and phytochemical compounds. Furthermore, nuts are low in saturated fatty acids. A recent study developed at University of Colima (México) showed that frequent consumption of peanuts, walnuts or almonds significantly reduced the risk of breast cancer by 2-3 times. Breast cancer is among the 5 most common types of cancer diagnosed in women. Another recent study was undertaken by a group of researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (USA). They found that women who consumed nuts twice or more times per week (approximately 56 g per week) had a 13% lower risk of colorectal cancer compared to those women who rarely consumed nuts. Relevant are the conclusions of the study published by the British Journal of Cancer. After following a group of 75,600 women, researchers found that women who consumed a 28 g serving size of nuts twice or more times per week experienced a significantly lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those who rarely consumed. More than 30% of cancer deaths could be prevented by modifying the key risk factors Some of these key risk factors, such as high body mass index or low fruit and vegetable intake, have been mentioned above. A healthy diet, including a handful of nuts every day, is among the recommended habits that may reduce the incidence of cancer. What’s your opinion? Are nuts within your daily eating habits? facts about dried fruits sugar concentrationSeveral misconceptions have perpetuated the idea that dried fruits may be less healthy than their fresh counterparts Among other perceptions, it has been considered that dried fruits are loaded with calories because they are rich in sugar. However, this is not true. A comprehensive approach to dried fruits proves that, as for equal servings, dried fruits have no more sugar or calories than the fresh version. One of the common problems encountered when comparing dried foods on nutritional grounds is the common practice of equating on a weight for basis, for example, per 100g. Not surprisingly, the sugar content of dried versus fresh fruits on the basis appears disproportionately high, contributing to the mixed messages about the sugar concentration of dried fruits. Dried fruits don't have more sugar content or calories than fresh fruits When comparing fresh fruit with their dried counterparts, the definition of traditional dried fruits must be considered. Traditional dried fruits are fruits which have had a majority of their water content removed. Therefore, instead of comparing equal weights of fresh and dried fruits, equal serving sizes translate to roughly the same nutritional value in terms of calories, sugar content and fiber. This means that 100 grapes should equate to 100 raisins, instead of comparing 100g of grapes with 100g of raisins. Therefore, a 40g serving of traditional dried fruit equals approximately four times the weight in fresh fruit, with exact weights varying with fruit and drying method. In other words, when portion size and water content are taken into account, the natural fruit sugars and calories become equal for fresh and dried fruits. Additionally, there are studies showing that traditional dried fruits have a low to moderate glycemic and insulin index, and a glycemic and insulin response comparable to fresh fruits. Foods
low glycemic index may help to decrease the risk of diabetes and are useful in the management of the established condition. Benefits of dried fruits on health Traditional dried fruits are a good source of several essential nutrients, especially potassium and dietary fiber. Potassium intake levels are low among most children and adults, becoming a substantial health concern since increasing dietary potassium can lower blood pressure. Additionally, high fiber diets are recommended to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer. A 40g serving of dried fruit delivers approximately 10% of the recommended daily requirement for fiber, depending on the fruit, and dried fruit ranks among the top potassium sources in diets around the world. What’s about you? Are you including dried fruits in your eating habits?   Extracted from the brochure Food Policy Makers Asked to Consider Dried Fruits Equivalent to Fresh Fruit, The Cracker magazine, July 2011; 34-37. A complete text of Traditional Dried Fruits: Valuable Tools to Meet Dietary Recommendations for Fruit Intake is available online at with biographical summaries of the contributors, along with supporting charts, statistics, and references. reasons why nuts are good for the heartAccording to WHO, 17.5 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2012, being the first cause of death in developing and industrialized countries, representing 31% of global deaths in the world. Prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases have a key element on a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol. This is the reason why nuts are pivotal when looking after a healthy heart. Scientific studies, such as the PREDIMED trial (“Primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases with Mediterranean Diet”), showed that daily consumption of nuts might reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 30 %. Here are 5 reasons why nuts are a good option for preserving a healthy heart. Benefits of nuts can be attributed to their multiple components such as fiber, vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, arginine, plant sterols, and phytochemical compounds, among others. Although the fat profile differs from one to another, nuts are a good source of unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated) and have a low proportion of saturated fats. Variety is so wide (walnuts, pecans, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, macadamias, pine nuts) that consumers have plenty of choices to combine them within a balanced diet. Besides providing nutrients, nuts may also improve our health significantly and reduce the risk of suffering from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. As a matter of fact, regular consumption of nuts has been associated to a reduction between 7 and 10% in “bad cholesterol” (LDL). There is a popular belief that nut consumption can lead to weight gain. However, when they are eaten in moderation, their effect is far from just adding some extra kilos to our body weight. First of all, nuts have a satiating power, as they are rich in fats and proteins. While eating them, we forbear from taking other food items. Secondly, the energy provided by nuts is not entirely assimilated in the organism. Between 10 and 20% of nuts fat will never reach the blood. Nuts can be easily introduced in our daily habits. A handful of nuts per day (28 g), seven days a week, represent the recommended portion to take advantage of their healthy benefits. Nuts can be added to breakfast options or can be taken as a healthy snack in our working day. Nuts work wonders with many dishes belonging to different kind of culinary cultures. Mediterranean diet, highly appreciated by doctors and nutritionists, is based on nuts, among other components. Apart from being healthy, applied with imagination nuts can transform our menus into state-of-the-art cuisine. for a longer and healthier lifeThe are different studies concluding that a frequency nut consumption is inversely related to mortality risk. 2015 is drawing to an end and it is now time to think on your new year’s resolutions. Maybe, you are within that group of people who are thinking of introducing healthier dietary habits. Modern lifestyle forces us to cope with stress and thousand of obligations that, when they are not being properly faced up, may lead to unhealthy eating habits. Should you be in that situation, you must know that nuts may help you to take care of your health. Apart from being an excellent nutritional complement, nuts are associated with a longer lifespan in both men and women. There are different studies concluding that a frequency nut consumption is inversely related to mortality risk. The largest one was published in 2013 in the prestigious journal New England Journal of Medicine. Conclusions showed that people eating nuts as a daily routine had a 20% lower death rate compared to those who did not consume nuts. Those who reported regularly consuming nuts seven or more times a week were less likely to die from a variety of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. More than 118,000 men and women were enrolled in this study. Participants were asked about their frequency of nut consumption (serving size, 28 g). In fact, this is considered the largest study to date because it involved three-decades of work. Participants filled out surveys on food and lifestyle habits every 2 to 4 years since the beginning of the study in the 80s. A recent study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology points to similar conclusions. Benefits of nuts on health More scientific evidence has been found in the study published in BMC Medicine. Its conclusions showed a reduction of 39% in total mortality in those participants consuming more than 3 serving of nuts per week. A similar protective effect against cardiovascular and cancer mortality was observed. Researchers evaluated more than 7,000 men and women aged 55 to 80 years randomized to 1 out of 3 interventions (Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts or olive oil and a control diet). The median follow-up was of 4.8 years. Nut consumption was associated with a significant reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Benefits of nuts for our health lie in its nutritional composition. Nuts are a complex matrix of fiber, protein, minerals, unsaturated fats and vitamins, which may provide cardioprotective, anticarcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. As it has been observed, benefits of nuts intake in our health are related to eating them in a proper amount and in the context of a healthy diet. It implies a handful of nuts (28 g/day). Thereby, just a handful of nuts per day may help you to protect against cancer, heart diseases and diabetes. These are powerful reasons to reinforce your eating habits by including nuts in your lifestyle. to make your Christmas servings Haute Cuisine? Add nuts and dried fruits!Ferran Adrià, Raül Balam, Neil Perry and Mert Seran, INC’s collaborators, explain some secrets about how to make exclusive dishes with nuts and dried fruits for this Christmas. Nuts and dried fruit are essential to our Christmas meals but, most of us haven’t realized yet that adding nuts and dried fruits can help us take our dishes to the next level. Four international chefs, Ferran Adrià (El Bulli), Raül Balam (Moments, Barcelona), Neil Perry (The Rockpool Group, Melbourne) and Mert Seran (Ulus 29, Istanbul), explain some secrets about how nuts and dried fruits can make your Christmas servings become haute cuisine. One of the bests chefs in the world, Ferran Adrià, claims that “tree nuts have been present in domestic gastronomy in the Mediterranean cuisine. However, most of chefs use nuts as high gastronomic creativity, or elements with the capability of modifying textures, emphasize taste and highlight Mediterranean flavors”. In the book, “Nuts, Health and Mediterranean Culture”, edited by INC, Cyclops and Fundación Nucis, the three-Michelin Star chef says that “the creativity in the kitchen is important but it is also fundamental to remember our ancestors culinary habits”. “Adding nuts can help us to have an assorted and healthy diet, as they make it fun and with different flavors”, adds Adrià. He suggests us to make ‘dried fruit crepes with dates, figs, dried apricots, pistachios, raisins and prunes’. The two-Michelin Star chef of Moments (Barcelona), Raül Balam, encourages us to add tree nuts as part of our recipes, both salty and sweet. “I am devoted to a type of cuisine that focuses on pleasure and health, and tree nuts have become a source of inspiration”, explains Balam. For instance, Balam suggests that we make a ‘fine turrón of tree nuts with pistachios, pine nuts, hazelnuts, egg and sugar’. You can find the recipe here. Neil Perry, one of Australia’s leading and most influential chefs, also invites us to add nuts and dried fruit to our meals. “The options are endless. Their textures and flavours are unique. They are a game changer when it comes to any dish”, says Perry. This international chef invites us to use it in breads, loaves and cakes, but also in salads and sides. “Take tagine to another level with the addition of almonds, dates and apricots”, suggests Perry. The chef of Ulus 29, in Istanbul, Mert Seran, also invites us to use nuts and dried fruits to improve our Christmas meals. For instance, Seran suggests adding pistachios and hazelnuts to a pesto in order to make our dishes more creative. Find Mert Seran ‘roasted baby beats and lime scented goat cheese with pistachio pesto’ here. Ferran Adrià, Neil Perry and Mert Seran were given the INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy within the frame of the INC Congress in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively. Ounces of Nuts per Day May Help pre-Diabetic and Diabetic Patients to Decrease their Fasting Glucose and Insulin ResistanceNut consumption has beneficial effects on glucose and insulin levels, according to the latest researches studying the relationship between the consumption of nuts and Type 2 Diabetes (T2D).The PREDIMED study has proven that following a Mediterranean diet, with 30 g of nuts a day, reduced the incidence of diabetes by 52% in people with high cardiovascular risk aged between 55 and 80 years, who were non-diabetic when the study began. Two other researchers following this line have shown that two ounces (57 g) of nuts per day can improve insulin resistance. Researchers from the University of Toronto have performed a meta-analysis of 12 studies into the effects of nuts on health. They have found that consuming about two ounces of tree nuts per day significantly decreases triglycerides and fasting blood glucose and helps glycemic control in those patients with type 2 diabetes. Indeed, participants showed a mean decrease of glucose of 0.15 mmol/L after eight-weeks of tree nuts’ diets compared with control diets. This analysis also applies to patients with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of risk factors shown to be associated with an increased risk for T2D, cardiovascular disease and mortality. In addition, researchers at the Human Nutrition Unit, from Rovira i Virgili University, have proven that the intake of two ounces (57 g) of pistachios per day has a significant effect: it decreases fasting glucose, and favors insulin and the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance. This line of study has been followed by Dr. S. Gulati, from the Diabetes Foundation in India, who has shown that a diet containing pistachios may improve the cardiometabolic profile of those subjects suffering from metabolic syndrome. In fact, it has been shown to significantly reduce fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Currently, about 400 million people (more than 5% of the population) have T2D. It is estimated that by 2035 there will be almost 600 million people living with T2D and almost 900 million people with pre-diabetes, a silent state associated with a high risk of several deadly conditions including T2D, heart disease, hypertension, strokes and early death. Consumption of Nuts Can Help Cardiometabolic Health and Older People’s Memory, Attention and ReasoningThe International Nut and Dried Fruit Council has organized a symposium to present to the media the new findings of the benefits of nuts on health, which has taken place at the European Nutrition Conference in Berlin. Four international experts have explained new findings on nuts and health. Prof. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, from Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain); Dr. Fran Grodstein, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School (USA); Dr. Giuseppina Mandalari, from University of Messina (Italy), and Dr. Volker Mai, from University of Florida (USA), shared the latest scientific studies on the beneficial effects of nuts, such as cardiometabolic health or the relationship between the consumption of nuts and better cognitive function in older men. Prof. Salas-Salvadó, from Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain), explained in the lecture “Nuts and Cardiometabolic Health” that nut consumption can help patients with metabolic syndrome, which is a clustering of medical conditions such as abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting plasma glucose, high serum triglycerides and low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. Also, they have proven that participants with metabolic syndrome are more likely to reverse the syndrome when they consumed nuts in the context of a healthy diet. In this symposium, Dr. Fran Grodstein (Brigham and Women’s Hospital Harvard Medical School, USA) explained that there is a relation between increased consumption of nuts and better cognitive function in older men, which encompasses processing speed, memory, attention, and learning. Specifically, the researchers have shown that men age 67 and older eating more than 2 servings of nuts per week have better results on neuropsychologic tests. Dr. Giusseppina Mandalari presented the lecture “Nuts and digestion”. Her team study has demonstrated that pistachios release important nutrients and antioxidants during digestion. Researchers also assessed the lipid bioaccessibility of almonds thanks to an in vitro model of digestion consisting of a dynamic gastric model, which provided a convincing explanation for why almonds have a low metabolizable energy content and an attenuated impact on postprandial lipemia. In the same symposium, Dr. Volker Mai, from the University of Florida, presented the lecture “Tree Nuts and the Gut; Supporting Healthy Microbiota”. Researchers studied whether the consumption of 1.5 ounces of almonds in adults and 0.5 ounces in children changes gastrointestinal function. The study found that almonds consumption resulted in detectable changes in bacterial taxa particularly in children, some with potential beneficial characteristics. Study Reinforces Cashew Nutritional QualityFor the first time, a team of researchers has analyzed the nutritional composition of raw cashew nuts from the largest growing regions around the world, providing a much better approximation of the real nutrient content of cashews. Researchers studied the composition of raw cashew kernels from India, Ivory Coast, Vietnam, Brazil, Mozambique, and Kenya. The composition analyses were conducted within three months after harvest, and included dietary fiber, sugar, protein, lipid profile, salt, energy content, sterol content and profile, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Researchers concluded that cashews are a good source of nutrients as they are rich in healthy unsaturated fats, high in dietary fiber and have an excellent profile of plant-based proteins. They also contain a wide variety of important micro- and macronutrients including vitamins and amino acids. No significant differences were found among samples from different origins. The results also showed that cashews are relatively high in fat, but most of that fat (80%) is unsaturated. It is important to look at not only the amount of fat, but also the type. Saturated fat can raise blood cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. On the contrary, unsaturated fats, such as mono- and polyunsaturated fat, can actually decrease low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad” cholesterol) levels. Modern human nutrition research has linked nut consumption with several health benefits due to their particular nutrient composition. Including nuts in a healthy diet is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality, especially stroke, and to a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Furthermore, epidemiological and clinical studies have shown that frequent nut intake is not generally associated with weight gain. The study was undertaken by a group of researchers from Pere Virgili Health Research Institute (IISPV) and Rovira i Virgili University, in Spain. It was supported by the Global Cashew Council and the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council. About Cashews The cashew nut is native of northeast Brazil. During the 16th century, the Portuguese introduced it into India and Portuguese colonies in Africa such as Mozambique. From India, cashew trees spread all over South East Asia. The tree grows in tropical areas and is cultivated primarily in India, Vietnam, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, Benin, Brazil, and other countries in East and West Central Africa and South East Asia. Plantings have also been established in South Africa and Australia. Among tree nuts, cashews rank third in world production, behind almonds and walnuts, with a world average production of 550,000 metric tons (kernel basis). In 2015, global production is estimated at 651,100 MT (kernel basis), led by India and Cote d’Ivoire with about 143,000 MT both, and followed by Vietnam (113,000 MT). at the 12th European Nutrition ConferenceThe 12th European Nutrition Conference, the main event of the Federation of European Nutrition Societies will be held on October 20-23, 2015 in Berlin, Germany. INC has organized a nut-symposium at the last two conferences. FENS attracts more than 2,000 global nutritionists and food-related professionals. The theme of this year’s conference is “Nutrition and health throughout life-cycle – Science for the European consumer”. Many sessions will focus on issues and new developments in the areas of food and nutrient intake, advances in dietary studies, public health, chronic diseases, food quality and safety. The INC-sponsored symposium “New Findings on Nuts and Health” is taking place on Wednesday, 21 October 2015, from 4:30 – 6:00 pm, and will inform nutritionists and health experts about the latest developments in nuts consumption and cardiometabolic health, cognitive function, digestion, and microbiota. The symposium will bring together leading researchers from US and Europe, and will provide the opportunity to spread the benefits of nuts to a large group of health and nutrition experts. Prof. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Chairman of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research and Dissemination, will speak about the latest scientific studies supporting that nut consumption is inversely associated with metabolic syndrome -a group of metabolic abnormalities that includes abdominal obesity, dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, and hyperglycemia. Dr. Francine Grodstein, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in the USA, will talk about the strong relation between nut consumption and better cognitive function in older men. In particular, she will speak about the study “Long-term Nut Consumption and Cognitive Function with Aging” which examined the relation of nut intake to cognitive function (processing speed, attention, learning, and memory) in 1,587 men age 67 years and older. Dr. Giuseppina Mandalari, from the University of Messina in Italy and the Institute of Food Research in the UK, will talk about nuts and digestion, and the bioaccessibility of nutrients and phytochemicals, which has important implications in the areas of disease prevention and management. Dr. Volker Mai, from the University of Florida, will present “Tree Nuts and the Gut: Supporting a Healthy Microbiota”, highlighting that the natural fibers and phytochemicals that reach the proximal colon, such as those present in tree nuts, provide substrates for the maintenance of healthy and diverse microbiota. www.fensberlin2015.org Show that Regular Consumption of Nuts is Inversely Related to Death Due to CancerOn the occasion of the celebration of the World Day Against Cancer on the 4th of February, the INC (International Nut and Dried Fruit Council) reports that the regular consumption of nuts is associated with a reduced mortality risk, according to a recent study run by Harvard University. Today, cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, accounting for 8.2 million deaths per year. Nut consumption has a lot more to do in preventing cancer than we normally think. Today, cancer causes about 8.2 million deaths per year, and is expected to raise this number to 13 million per year by 2034. Also, the current figure of 14 million of annual cancer cases detected in 2012 is expected to grow into 22 million within the next two decades. Given the forecast and coinciding with the World Day against Cancer, celebrated every year on February 4th, the International Nut & Dried Fruit Council (INC) wants to share some facts that can help us live a healthier life and may help prevent this disease. According to a recent study run by Harvard University, which analyzed over 100.000 people along 30 years,nut consumption was inversely associated with total mortality by over 20% with disregard of the cause, and had an inverse relation with some of the most common causes of death, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. This study, the largest ever conducted investigating the effect of nuts intake in mortality, concluded that participants who ate a daily handful of nuts reduced the mortality due to cancer by 11%, compared to those who didn’t consume any nuts. Dr. Ying Bao concluded that “nut consumption was inversely associated with mortality, independently of other risk factors“. In another study also ran by Dr. Bao and her colleagues, called “Nut consumption and risk of pancreatic cancer in women“, it was revealed that frequent nut consumption is inversely associated with risk of pancreatic cancer in women, independent of other potential risk factors for pancreatic cancer including age, obesity, physical activity, smoking or diabetes. Besides nuts, dried fruits are also indicated for cancer prevention, as they are as healthy as their fresh equivalent and high in polyphenols, which are strong antioxidants that may protect DNA against damage, decrease inflammation and prevent cancer. Properties and Benefits A number of scientific studies have demonstrated the health benefits of nuts and dried fruits. All these benefits are attributed to the multiple components that these products have, such as vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, arginine, plant sterols and phytochemical compounds. Furthermore, they have a low content of saturated fatty acids, among others. Included in AHA/ASA Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of StrokeThe American Heart Association and American Stroke Association have incorporated the statement “A Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts may be considered in lowering the risk of stroke” into the Recommendations for Diet and Nutrition of the Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Stroke.   The study “Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with Mediterranean diets: the PREDIMED trial” has been included in the Guidelines. PREDIMED is the acronym of a long-term nutritional intervention study that assessed the efficacy of a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with nuts or extra-virgin olive oil in the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The aim of the AHA/ASA Guidelines is to provide comprehensive and timely evidence-based recommendations on the prevention of stroke among individuals who have not previously experienced a stroke or transient ischemic attack. The online version of this article, along with updated information and services, is located on the World Wide Web at: incidence rate of type 2 diabetes can be reduced by 52% with a regular consumption of nutsNut consumption as part of a Mediterranean diet can help reduce the incidence rate of type 2 diabetes by 52%, according to the PREDIMED study (Primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases through a Mediterranean diet). This data reinforce the earlier findings from the study Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic diet, this one carried out by the Toronto University in Canada.   The study Nuts as a replacement for carbohydrates in the diabetic diet, carried out on more than a hundred volunteers – type 2-diabetes patients over 60 –, highlights that the consumption of nuts increases body energy, which makes achieving a healthy weight easier and makes it easier for diabetes patients to control the disease. In addition, consuming nuts has been associated to a lower risk of suffering from cardiovascular diseases and reduces the blood cholesterol levels . Likewise, the conclusions from the PREDIMED study stress that following a Mediterranean diet, with 30grs of nuts a day, reduced the diabetes incidence by 52% among the people between 55 and 80 –non-diabetic when the study began- who followed this type of diet for at least four years . These data have been presented during the III World Congress of Public Health Nutrition, which took place in Las Palmas of Gran Canaria between the 9th and the 12th of November. Some of the most relevant scientists of the nutrition sector have presented there the conclusions of their latest studies. Several of these scientists study the effect of nut consumption in the prevalence and manifestation of type 2 diabetes. Coinciding with the World Diabetes Day, celebrated every year on November 14, the INC wants to recall these data. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce the amount of insulin the body needs, or it is of an inferior quality. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for between 90 and 95% of all cases of diabetes, occurs in adulthood (after age 40), and it is usually associated with overweight and a lack of physical activity, among other risk factors such as hypertension. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diabetes affects over 347 million people today and it will be the seventh cause of death worldwide by 2030. Only in 2012, one and a half million people died due to their excess of fasting blood sugar . “During the World Diabetes Day, it’s important to inform the population about the newest data that is important for them, such as the benefits that nut consumption can have on their health. Due to their properties, nuts reduce the risk of suffering from chronic diseases. Furthermore, their regular consumption helps limit, among other things, “bad cholesterol” levels (LDL); reducing them by between 7 and 10%”, claims Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Professor of Nutrition on the Rovira i Virgili University and Chairman of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research and Dissemination. Properties and benefits Several scientific studies have demonstrated that, in addition to having multiple beneficial properties, nuts also reduce the glycemic index (GI), increasing insulin resistance. Furthermore, nuts enable the blood to flow better and improve the endothelial function of the blood vessels. They also have an anti-inflammatory effect. These benefits are attributed to the multiple components that these products have, such as vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, arginine, plant sterols and phytochemical compounds. Furthermore, they have a low content of saturated fatty acids, among others. consumption of nuts reduces by 29% the chances of death by cardiac diseaseConsuming nuts regularly reduces by 29% the chances of death by cardiovascular disease. This is one of the main conclusions presented in the III World Congress of Public Health Nutrition, which is being held in Las Palmas until the 14th of November.   Within the symposium organized by the INC (International Nut & Dried Fruit Council), the conference entitled Nuts in Health and Disease will analyze the latest studies carried out by some of the most prestigious international scientists in the nutrition sector. The four experts who will take part in the press conference previous to the talk have presented new conclusions about the effect of nut consumption in diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive degeneration and mortality rates. Nuts and cardiovascular health Professor Jordi Salas from the University Rovira i Virgili of Tarragona (Spain) has talked about how “nut-consumption has a positive effect on cardiovascular health. This is due to nuts’ unique nutritional composition: high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, fibre, minerals and vitamines”. This nutrient concentration could explain why “nuts protect the cardiovascular system and have a positive effect against this type of diseases with high mortality rates”, explained the professor. Nut-consumption also has a positive effect on the metabolic syndrome control, which is the combination of at least three interlinked cardiovascular risk factors (central obesity, high blood pressure, high triglyceride concentration, low levels of good cholesterol and hyperglycaemia or diabetes, among others). The metabolic syndrome increases the risk of suffering from diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular diseases, being the latter the main mortality cause in the whole world, with 17 million deaths each year. Cognitive functions In the conference entitled “The potential role of nuts in cognitive functions”, Dr. Joan Sabaté, from the Loma Linda University of California (USA) will examine the potential role of nuts in the prevention of cognitive degeneration. He will present the study he is currently carrying out which “aims to assess if regular walnut consumption prevents the age-related cognitive decline in elderly people”. He will then focus on walnuts’ nutritional factors and their effects. Mortality reduction Another guest speaker was Dr. Ying Bao from the Harvard University of Boston (USA), who has spoken about the relation between nut-consumption and mortality. The conclusions from the study “Relationship between nut-consumption and general and specific mortality” state that an increase in the nut-consumption is directly related to the decrease of the total mortality and of the mortality caused by a specific cause, excluding other indicators. One of the most relevant figures, in Dr. Ying Bao words, is that “the cardiovascular-disease induced mortality was reduced by 29% in people who ate nuts four or five times a week”. Protection against diabetes Lastly, Dr. Cyril Kendall from the University of Toronto (Canada) will present in his conference the latest data that prove that nut-consumption has a protective effect on insuline-resistance and type 2 diabetes. The information comes from the study “Nuts as a carbohydrate alternative in the diabetic diet”. Among other conclusions, the study results show that “the daily consumption of nuts improves the glycemic control and the lipid levels in blood in patients with type 2 diabetes”, as Dr. Kendall explained. The INC, which organized this symposium, “has as a main goal the research of nuts’ and dried fruit’s properties in the nutrition field in order to inform the consumers about the real benefits of including these foods in their diets”, as the INC Executive Director, Goretti Guasch, explains. consumption of nuts may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 30%Regular consumption of nuts may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases up to 30%, according to the INC (International Nut and Dried Fruit Council). These data, taken from the research PREDIMED (“Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with Mediterranean diet”), also indicate the reduction in the incidence of diabetes by means of a daily portion of nuts, which is equal to about 30 grams of product.   The INC shows these data coinciding with World Heart Day, since cardiovascular diseases are the main cause of death worldwide. In particular, according to the World Health Organization, in 2008 over 17.3 million deaths were caused worldwide for this reason that, according to this source, will cause about 23.3 million deaths worldwide in 2030. “Due to its many beneficial properties, nuts are food that not only provide nutrients, but also improve health significantly and reduce the risk of chronic diseases,” claims Jordi Salas-Salvadó, chairman of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research and Dissemination. Also, the INC recommends regular consumption of nuts in order to reduce “bad cholesterol” (LDL) between 7 and 10%. Properties and benefits Among its many beneficial properties, several scientific studies show that nuts also reduce the glycemic index (GI), prevent blood clots and provide more fluid blood, improve endothelial function of blood vessels and have an anti-inflammatory effect. These benefits are given to multiple components of these products, such as Vitamin E, folic acid, magnesium, arginine, plant sterols, phytochemical compounds and low levels of saturated fatty acid substances, among others. Study Concludes Pistachios May Help Reduce The Risk Of DiabetesA study conducted by investigators from the Human Nutrition Unit at Rovira i Virgili University, Reus, Spain, has recently demonstrated that the inclusion of pistachios into a balanced diet can be a safe nutritional strategy to reverse the risks associated with prediabetes. More specifically, the study determines that a pistachio-rich diet has a beneficial effect on glucose metabolism, insulin resistance, inflammation and other related markers. Moreover, there were no significant changes in body mass index in the pistachio-supplemented diet group, which supports the fact that nuts are not fattening. Researchers from the Universitari Hospital of Sant Joan de Reus, in Reus, and the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid collaborated on the trial, which was funded by American Pistachio Growers and Paramount Farms. Diet Supplemented with Nuts Cuts Risk of Peripheral Artery DiseasePast research had indicated that following a Mediterranean diet (Med Diet) could decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Now new research highlights that a Med Diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts may well cut the risk of peripheral artery disease, according to recent study published in the journal JAMA. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a condition in which fatty deposits increase in the arteries, restricting blood supply to the arms, legs, stomach or kidneys. According to the team of scientists led by Miguel Ruiz-Canela at the University of Navarra (Spain), the innovation of this study lies in the association between a Med Diet and PAD. Researchers examined 7,477 participants; men aged 55-80 years, and women aged 60-80 years. All participants had no symptoms of PAD or baseline cardiovascular disease, although they did have type 2 diabetes or a minimum of three other cardiovascular risk factors. Subjects were randomized to one of three diet groups: 1) a Med Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil; 2) a Med Diet supplemented with nuts, or 3) a low-fat diet with counseling. All participants were assessed from the baseline of the study in 2003 until December 2010, and received a complete dietary instruction plan every 3 months. According to the study data, in the middle point of the study (4.8 years), 89 of the participants developed PAD. Nevertheless, investigators found that groups who followed the Med Diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts had a considerably lower risk of developing PAD, compared to the group following the low-fat diet. More information Consumption Inversely Associated with ObesityA new study published in the journal PLoS One by researchers of Loma Linda University, in California, found once more that tree nuts and peanuts appear to have a strong inverse association with obesity and metabolic syndrome (MetS). The study was conducted on clinical, dietary, anthropometric and demographic data of 803 adults. MetS was defined according to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute diagnostic criteria. The study compared the low/high ingestion of tree nuts combined with low/high ingestion of peanuts. Both ingestion of tree nuts and peanuts were inversely associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome. More information here Diet supplemented with nuts reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes by 18%According to the authors, the results of this study modify global recommendations to prevent or delay diabetes through diet. The statistics of diabetes are increasing globally, predominantly in developing countries. The causes are multifaceted, but are in large part due to rapid increases in overweight, obesity and physical inactivity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 347 million people worldwide have diabetes . (This fact reaches almost 10% of world’s adult population, measured by elevated fasting blood glucose ≥126 mg/dl). Lifestyle modifications (diet, physical activity, weight loss) are the basis of treatment, although sometimes medications are used. According to WHO, Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia). Types of diabetes are: Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin production. Type 2 diabetes (formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes) is caused by the body’s ineffective use of insulin. It often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity. Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia that is first recognized during pregnancy. Type 2 diabetes comprises 90% of people with diabetes around the world , and is largely the result of excess body weight and physical inactivity. Type 2 diabetes increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and blindness, especially in those individuals who are not controlled; extremity amputation is associated with early atherosclerosis. All these complications affect the patients, reducing quality and life expectancy. Type 2 diabetes, in adult people, can be prevented by a healthy diet and lifestyle, including regular physical activity, although sometimes medications are used. However, no scientific research until now was conducted to assess whether adherence to a healthy diet can prevent diabetes whether weight loss occurs. Epidemiological studies suggest that dietary patterns characterized by high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, and lower consumption of red and processed meat and sugary drinks could delay the onset of diabetes. In recent years, the traditional Mediterranean Diet has become a dietary pattern for healthy eating. The Med Diet is moderately high in fat (especially from vegetable sources such as olive oil and nuts), and relatively low in dairy products. Moderate alcohol intake, especially wine, and the frequent use of sofrito (oil, tomato, onion, garlic and spices) for food preparations are also typical. Recent research has suggested that the Mediterranean dietary pattern may also prevent diabetes, but the relationship was insufficient. As part of the PREDIMED study, researchers from Rovira i Virgili University, in partnership with the Official Catalan Health Service, have just released in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal a new research study that shows that individuals who followed a Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts had a 40% or 18% lower risk (respectively) to develop diabetes, compared to those who were advised to follow a low fat diet. According to the researchers, some of the benefits observed in cardiovascular disease could be explained through the reduction or delay in the development of diabetes. The study is based to 3,541 individuals who did not have diabetes at baseline and had available information during follow-up. Over an average of 4.1 years, adherence was enhanced with the Med Diet/supplemental foods compared with the low-fat diet group, as reviewed by questionnaires and biomarker measurements in a random subset. A total of 273 participants developed diabetes, including 6.9% of the Mediterranean-diet/Extra-Virgin Oil group, 7.4% of the Mediterranean-diet/mixed-nuts, group, and 8.8% of controls on the low-fat diet. When the 2 Mediterranean diet groups were combined, there was a significant overall approximate 30% risk reduction for type 2 diabetes compared with the controls. These results were consistent when examined by subgroups of sex, age, co-morbidities, smoking status, CVD family history and adiposity. Professor Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Chairman of the INC World Forum for Nutrition Research and Dissemination, Chair of Human Nutrition at Rovira i Virgili University (Spain), study co-author and PREDIMED study collaborator, outlined the observed reduction in the incidence of new cases of diabetes not linked to the individuals’ weight loss. So, during the study, no differences in weight were observed between the three intervention groups. Neither the reduction of new diabetes patients -who followed a Mediterranean Diet-, might be explained by differences in physical activity performed by individuals. Consequently, the reduction of the diabetes incidence can only be explained by the diet. According to co-author Dr. Basora, researchers have demonstrated for the first time that the adoption of a healthy dietary pattern by itself is able to prevent diabetes. Both authors outlined: “The main message from this research is that people who consume healthy plant based fats from mixed nuts and extra-virgin olive oil have a lower risk of developing diabetes. Nutritional recommendations should be reviewed accordingly”. The study was conducted by the team of Human Nutrition, Hospital Universitari de Sant Joan de Reus, Universitat Rovira i Virgili and CIBER Obesity and Nutrition of Institute of Health Carlos III; under the leadership of Prof. Jordi Salas- Salvadó, in partnership with the Official Catalan Health Institute lead by Dr. Josep Basora. The research is part of the PREDIMED study; a long term study undertaken by 16 research groups in seven communities in Spain (2003-2011) to assess the effects of the Mediterranean Diet on the primary prevention of CVD in subjects at high risk.