newsBrazil Nuts and the Amazon Rainforest: A Story of Sustainability, Livelihood, and ConservationThe Amazon rainforest is one of the most majestic, biodiverse, and environmentally important regions of the world. Covering an area of over 5.5 million km2 and spreading over various countries in South America, it is the largest rainforest on the globe. Located within the rainforest is the tough, delicious, and nutritional Amazonia (Brazil) nut. Over the past decades, the Brazil nut has grown to become one of the most important economic products of the Amazon[1]. Brazil Nut Origins Brazil nuts are harvested in the wild of the Amazon rainforest. Their trees are massive and often times rise above the canopy of the rainforest. Each tree produces a fruit that encases anywhere from 10 to 20 individual Brazil nuts. Once these fruits ripen, they fall to the forest floor, waiting to be gathered from harvesters. Efforts to cultivate the tree outside of the wild have failed as the tree requires the extensive and complex ecosystem of the Amazon to flourish and produce Brazil nuts. Consequently, the production of Brazil nuts is rarely steady and this results in unpredictable harvests. Each year, the harvest is dependent on environmental, economic and political conditions of the area. (Picture courtesy of Tahuamanu SA.) Once Brazil nuts are harvested, they are enjoyed around the world for their delicious taste, amplifying recipes or just serving as a tasty snack. Moreover, they provide various health benefits being high in fiber, vitamin E, thiamin and minerals such as selenium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. They also contain more selenium than any other food on the planet. Threats Against the Amazon Rainforest Home to the Brazil nut, the Amazon rainforest currently faces some of the highest rates of deforestation as well as wildfires. In June 2020, Reuters reported that the deforestation of the rainforest could be at its worst levels in over a decade[2]. Regarding wildfires, the situation does not look any better. In July 2020, there were almost 7,000 wildfires in the rainforest, amounting to an increase of 28% compared to July 2019[3]. Furthermore, the rainforest is also threatened by “land grabbers”, which are individuals who clear paths in the Amazon for cattle pastures. Just from April 27 to September 9, 2019 alone, 2.8 thousand hectares of forest were illegally cut down[4]. Unfortunately, the expansion of cattle pasture usually takes away from Brazil nut harvesters.  Sustainability, Livelihood, and Conservation Throughout the years, the growth and harvest of Brazil nuts from the Amazon has become a key resource and through its harvesting, known as “conservation-through-use”, it has supported millions of hectares of the rainforest[5]. The growth of the Brazil nut can be directly tied to the saving of the Amazon rainforest and due to the impact not only on the conservation of the rainforest, but also the impact on the local economies and livelihoods, the Brazil nut has been referred to by some as the cornerstone of Amazon forest conservation[6]. [1] Kainer, K. A., Wadt, L. H., & Staudhammer, C. L. (2018). The evolving role of Bertholletia excelsa in Amazonia: contributing to local livelihoods and forest conservation. Desenvolvimento e Meio Ambiente, 48. [2] Spring, J. (2020, July 10). La deforestación del Amazonas aumenta en junio y podría ser la peor en una década. Reuters. [3] Amazon region: Brazil records big increase in fires. (2020, August 2). BBC News. [4] Maisonnave, F. (2020, July 28). Amazon land grabbers are destroying brazil nut groves for cattle pasture. Climate Change News. [5] Laird, S. A., & Pierce, A. R. (2002). Tapping the green market: certification and management of non-timber forest products. Earthscan. [6] Clay, J. W. (1997). Brazil nuts: the use of a keystone species for conservation and development. Harvesting wild species: implications for biodiversity conservation, 246-282. and Dried Fruits for External BeautyHow can almonds help prevent ageing Almonds are notoriously known for their potential benefits for heart health as they are high in monounsaturated fat, or otherwise known as good fat, so when eaten as part of a healthy diet, they may help maintain healthy cholesterol levels reducing your risk of heart disease. However, there is research that suggests that adding almonds into your daily diet could help reduce wrinkles! This is because almonds are high in vitamin E which may aid in the protection of cells from oxidative stress, put more simply, ageing. Why can Brazil nuts help us maintain hair and nail health Brazil nuts are full of goodness. They are a high in fiber, vitamin E, thiamin and minerals such as selenium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Brazil nuts are also a source of calcium and iron (1,2). But how may they help our hair and nail health you may ask? Well, Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which is known to help towards the maintenance of normal hair and nails. In fact, the Brazil nut has more selenium than any other food on the planet! How can Macadamias help us to stay wrinkle free Again, like almonds, macadamias are widely known for their benefits for heart health thanks to their high omega-7 content. But, thanks to their antioxidant manganese content they are also great little miracles to potentially prevent signs of ageing. Antioxidant manganese is essential for your skin to produce the collagen which skin needs to stay it needs to stay plump and wrinkle free. Why do dried apricots help vision So how can these little orange beauties help towards a healthy complexion you may ask. Well, the answer is their nutrient content. Dried apricots are high in vitamin A which is considered an essential nutrient that contributes towards the maintenance of normal skin. And, as an added bonus as well as vitamin A, dried apricots also contain beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, all of which may contribute to the upkeep of normal vision.   If you want to find out how you can add nuts and dried fruits to your diet check out our recipes. Chat with Two Michelin-Starred Chef, José Avillez You are a widely known chef not only in Portugal but all throughout the culinary world. What started your journey to become a chef? When did you decide this was the path you wanted? I’ve had a passion for food and for eating ever since I was a child. I started cooking at home when I was 7. I used to bake with my sister and we sold the cakes to family, friends and neighbors. I went to university to study Business Communication, but it was only in my senior year of the degree in Business Communication that I decided to be a chef. In that same year, I participated in individual study sessions with Maria de Lourdes Modesto, the most important Portuguese author on Traditional Portuguese Cuisine, who encouraged me. Those sessions and my first traineeship in a professional kitchen changed my life. I knew I had found my path. You are a champion of the Portuguese Cuisine, but what makes your country’s cuisine special? How would you describe Portuguese food? Portuguese cuisine is tremendously rich and varied due to the wide variety of landforms, climatic conditions, and soils. Northern Portugal is a mountainous region with green fertile valleys and tree-covered mountains, the Central coastal region consists of dunes and pine forests, Southern Portugal (known as the Alentejo) is an area of plains, so each region has different products (cheese, charcuterie, meat, fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc.) and a different cuisine. We also have long coastline which explains why fish and seafood is a culinary flag. The Portuguese coast provides great quality fish and seafood —for me, the world’s best— with a unique flavor and texture. Your restaurant Belcanto has garnered 2 MICHELIN Stars. What does this recognition mean for you and is it your goal to be award a third star? I'm very grateful to the MICHELIN Guide, it’s an important acknowledgment for me, for the team, for the restaurant and for the Portuguese cuisine. BELCANTO's team is very dedicated and professional and every day we do our best. Let’s see what the future holds. How important is the quality of the ingredients you use? What is the dining experience you wish to give every person who enters a restaurant of yours? The quality of the ingredients, the accuracy of preparation, the temperatures, the textures, the service… everything counts. At Belcanto we offer revisited Portuguese cuisine and a unique sensory and gastronomic voyage. As many consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about health and healthy eating, nuts and dried fruits can be an important part of one’s diet. How do you include nuts and/ or dried fruits in your restaurants? We are careful about food allergies and food restrictions, but I like nuts and I like to use them in different ways: starters, dishes or even desserts. Nuts are a good source of nutrients and add interesting flavors and texture. Nuts and dried fruits offer much more than just a healthy addition to a meal, they can change the texture, flavor, and even elevate a dish to the next level. What do you think are the benefits of cooking with nuts and dried fruits, aside from their health benefits? Exactly that. Nuts add an interesting flavor and texture and can be used in starters, main dishes, or desserts. Just as an example: at Belcanto we serve a Portuguese shore prawn with pine nut cream, iced lupine and caviar, a Carrot and olive in different textures with pine nut milk and lupin bean “caviar”, a Hake in fig leaf with its ‘tongues’, roasted baby leak, barbela wheat crunchy toast with fig leaves, dried fig butter, and smoked ham; at Cantinho do Avillez we serve a Meagre and shrimp moqueca with cashew nut and the most requested dessertis Hazelnut3 —hazelnut ice-cream, hazelnut foam, freshly grated hazelnut and fleur de sel. Over the years, you have essentially become a celebrity chef, writing many cookbooks, appearing on TV, radio, and even expanding into international projects. Are there any exciting projects you’re working on that you could share with us? What can the world expect next from Chef José Avillez? I’m always thinking about new ideas. In relation to other projects, we’ll see what the future holds. Stay tuned! QUICK-FIRE ROUND What do you enjoy the most about being a chef? The pleasure of welcoming and providing good moments to others. What is your personal favorite dish with nuts or dried fruits? Hake in fig leaf with its ‘tongues’, roasted baby leak, barbela wheat crunchy toast with fig leaves, dried fig butter and smoked ham from Belcanto. What is the next big gastronomical trend in the world? I don’t know if it’s the next big trend but there’s a search for identity, for what is unique about each culture, each cuisine. What nuts and dried fruits do you always have in your kitchen at home? Hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachio, dried figs… Check out Chef Avillez's delicious Hazelnut Trio recipe. are nuts good for us and how many should we eat per dayHow many nuts should I eat per day? Let's start with the simple. The recommended daily average for nut consumption per day is 28 g/1 oz (around an adult handful). That can be of one single nut or of your favorite mix. However, as each type of nut has different nutritional credentials, we recommend either creating your favorite mix or changing it up through the week to make sure you're getting the most out of these nutritional powerhouses. Why are nuts healthy? Well in a nutshell... nuts are a nutrient-rich food providing us with nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals, and other micronutrients that could help reduce our risk of heart diseases as well as benefit other chronic issues. Not only healthy for us but it has also been said that increasing the consumption of nuts as plant-based protein sources within your diet and reducing your intake of meat and dairy could potentially be a more sustainable way of eating for our planet. Some top health benefits of nuts Good for your heart. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fats, also known as good fats, and, consuming monounsaturated fatty acids may help lower your risk of heart disease by improving your risk factors by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels (i.e. bad cholesterol) while maintaining your high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level (i.e. good cholesterol).  Protective antioxidants. Worried about aging? Well, look no further. Nuts can help against oxidative stress, simply put aging. They contain compounds called polyphenols which have a protective effect on the body – they do so by helping to neutralize unstable molecules called free radicals which can cause damage. As well as this, some nuts are high in vitamin E known as a powerful antioxidant that can reduce markers of oxidative stress. A healthy gut. There has been much emphasis on the importance of a healthy gut over the past few years. And it's true. A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria and immune cells that ward off infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses. A healthy gut also communicates with the brain through nerves and hormones, which helps maintain general health and well-being. And the role nuts play... nuts are rich in fiber and polyphenols, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can potentially benefit the good bacteria in our gut by fuelling the bacteria and helping them grow in number. Studies conducted with almonds and pistachios have reported increases in the growth of beneficial bacteria leading to increased butyrate – a short-chain fatty acid – which is thought to keep colon cells healthy. Weight management. Nuts are energy-dense foods and are high in fat (mainly healthy fats) which can put people off when adding them into their diet. However, when eaten as part of a healthy diet and the recommended daily allowance is consumed, it has been proven that nuts do not lead to weight gain. Also, nuts contain many nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins, and minerals which may help reduce overall hunger which in turn may stop you from reaching for unhealthy sugary snacks. Brain health. Higher nut consumption has been linked to better cognitive function in the elderly. A study has observed an inverse association between nut consumption and the prevention of cognitive decline. The findings identified that eating nuts regularly (at least once serving per week), may help boost brain function in older people. For ideas on how to add nuts to your daily diet, check out our recipes. Myths About Nuts and Dried FruitsMyth 1: Nut Consumption Leads to Weight Gain The belief that nuts are a fattening food has been commonly accepted for decades and therefore, it has long been assumed that nut intake leads to a weight gain. It is true that nuts are energy-dense foods and also high in fat, but they are especially high in unsaturated fats, also known as healthy fats. Research evidence showed us that when compared to a nut-free diet, the presence of nuts in a diet leads to a more moderate weight increase. 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[1]. Another study concluded that incorporating nuts as part of a healthy dietary pattern by replacing less healthful foods may help mitigate the gradual weight gain common during adulthood, and beneficially contribute to the prevention of obesity[2].   Moreover, incorporating almonds into your diet, for example as a mid-morning snack may help reduce overall hunger, so they also may be effective for appetite control[3]. And, a daily intake of 44 g of pistachios over 12 weeks may help improve nutrient intake without affecting body weight[4].   Myth true or false: false Myth 2: Walnuts May Help Improve Brain Health The Greeks called the walnut “karyon” (head), because it looks like a human brain. For this same reason, for centuries the Chinese have believed that walnuts are good for the brain[5]. This fact is, is that this fact is not false at all. Recent research suggests that walnut consumption may help improve cognitive function (brain health) and may also reduce the risk of other diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, depression and type 2 diabetes, which are risk factors for the development of dementia[6]. Now there a reason to add walnuts to your diet. Myth true or false: true Myth 3: The Sugar Content of Dried Fruits Promotes Dental Cavities? Traditional dried fruit is simply fresh fruit with water removed. They contain naturally occurring sugars (not added sugars), with fructose and glucose being the most common. Due to their stickiness and natural sugar content, it has been thought that dried fruits could cause tooth decay. This is the case of an urban myth according to Jennette Higgs, Registered Public Health Nutritionist & Dietitian, and principal consultant for Food to Fit[7]. Scientific evidence suggests the contrary. For example, bioactive compounds found in raisins appear to have antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease[8].   Advice on dried fruit consumption should also take into account their nutritional benefits, being a source of fiber, low in fat and containing useful levels of micronutrients.   Myth true or false: false Myth 4: Soaked Nuts Better for You Recommendations to soak nuts prior to consumption to reduce phytate concentrations and improve gastrointestinal tolerance have received much attention in the popular press. Phytates or phytic acid is a substance found in plants that when eaten by humans, can reduce absorption of nutrients (specially minerals) from the diet. For that reason, soaking nuts before eating them has been so popular in recent years. This is despite no supporting scientific evidence for the practice. However, a 2018 study, primarily assessed the effects of soaking almonds on consumer acceptance and secondly assessed effects on gastrointestinal tolerance. Results observed that nuts were well tolerated gastrointestinally, but soaking does not improve gastrointestinal tolerance or acceptance as claimed in the lay literature[9]. With regards their phytate content, soaking resulted in lower mineral concentrations, especially for chopped nuts. But this research does not support claims that 'activating' or soaking nuts results in greater nutrient bioavailability/absorption[10]. Myth true or false: false Myth 5: Raw vs. Roasted Nuts Many people wonder whether raw nuts are healthier than roasted. It is a common myth that some people think that with the roasting process the nutritional properties in nuts, specially vitamins and minerals, could decrease. The fact is that nuts are generally roasted to improve their taste, aroma and crunchy texture.   To prove the point, scientific studies observed that nuts roasted at suitable temperature and time demonstrated excellent antioxidant activities[11] therefore showing that, when done correctly, roasting does not affect nutritional properties in nuts.   Tip: Try to eat nuts plain, just raw or roasted rather than with salt or sugar added.   Myth true or false: false   Now that we have been dispelling some of the myths around nuts and dried fruits, don’t forget to include them into your diet! Get some ideas here. [1] Freisling, H., Noh, H., Slimani, N., Chajès, V., May, A. M., Peeters, P. H., Weiderpass, E., Cross, A. J., Skeie, G., Jenab, M., Mancini, F. R., Boutron-Ruault, M. C., Fagherazzi, G., Katzke, V. A., Kühn, T., Steffen, A., Boeing, H., Tjønneland, A., Kyrø, C., Hansen, C. P., … Sabaté, J. (2018). Nut intake and 5-year changes in body weight and obesity risk in adults: results from the EPIC-PANACEA study. European journal of nutrition, 57(7), 2399–2408. [2] Liu X, Li Y, Guasch-Ferré M, et al. Changes in nut consumption influence long-term weight change in US men and women. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2019;bmjnph-2019-000034. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2019-000034 [3] Hollingworth, S., Dalton, M., Blundell, J. E., & Finlayson, G. (2019). Evaluation of the Influence of Raw Almonds on Appetite Control: Satiation, Satiety, Hedonics and Consumer Perceptions. Nutrients, 11(9), 2030. [4] Fantino, M., Bichard, C., Mistretta, F., & Bellisle, F. (2019). Daily consumption of pistachios over 12 weeks improves dietary profile without increasing body weight in healthy women: A randomized controlled intervention. Appetite, 104483. [5] Keown, D. (2014). The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine. Singing Dragon. [6]Chauhan, A., & Chauhan, V. (2020). Beneficial Effects of Walnuts on Cognition and Brain Health. Nutrients, 12(2), E550. [7] Higgs J. (2016). Dried Fruit: Dyspelling the Sugar myths. Nutfruit, Edition 68. Nº 2. [8] Rivero-Cruz, J. F., Zhu, M., Kinghorn, A. D., & Wu, C. D. (2008). Antimicrobial constituents of Thompson seedless raisins (Vitis vinifera) against selected oral pathogens. Phytochemistry Letters, 1(3), 151-154. [9] Taylor, H., Webster, K., Gray, A. R., Tey, S. L., Chisholm, A., Bailey, K., Kumari, S., & Brown, R. C. (2018). The effects of 'activating' almonds on consumer acceptance and gastrointestinal tolerance. European journal of nutrition, 57(8), 2771–2783. [10] Kumari, S., Gray, A. R., Webster, K., Bailey, K., Reid, M., Kelvin, K., Tey, S. L., Chisholm, A., & Brown, R. C. (2020). Does 'activating' nuts affect nutrient bioavailability?. Food chemistry, 319, 126529. [11] Chang, S. K., Alasalvar, C., Bolling, B. W., & Shahidi, F. (2016). Nuts and their co-products: The impact of processing (roasting) on phenolics, bioavailability, and health benefits–A comprehensive review. Journal of functional foods, 26, 88-122. Chat to Two-Michelin Star Chef, Tim RaueYou are a renowned chef, not only in Germany but in the world. Did you ever think that this would be the result of your journey in the culinary world? When did you know that this was the path you wanted to take? That happened by accident, as I was invited as a guest chef to international fairs, I was invited by others whom I met there and so I began a journey that allowed me to present myself and my culinary vision around the globe. And to be listed at The World's 50 Best and having a Netflix "chef´s table" episode are two things that allow us to reach customers from the entire world. Your cooking style is inspired by many Asian elements. What led you to become interested in this fusion and what are you trying to convey with your food? How would you describe your culinary style? When I was working for Swissotel & Raffles at the beginning of 2000, I traveled to Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo & Bangkok and got to know cuisines that touched me in a way, French cuisine never did. So, I forced myself to invent a unique style, that nowadays seems to be a unique selling point for me. Restaurant Tim Raue has been awarded two Michelin Stars and is considered one of the top restaurants in the world. What do these accomplishments and acknowledgements mean to you? First of all, that we are fully booked! Together with my business partner Marie-Anne Wild, we are focused on making money to pay our team –and as funny as this might sound, this is not very common in a German Michelin-starred restaurant. Most of them are not successful businesses but rather a location that is sponsored by someone who sees it as his/her task to support this culture. Secondly, all awards are attracting people to come to our restaurant, which is great. And thirdly, I am extremely proud that we do so great every day. Your menu is constantly putting an emphasis on health. What inspired you to take this approach to creating your menu? What do you believe is the future for healthier eating? I was learning about medicinal cooking in Hong Kong and spent time at the "Chinese pharmacy" to understand more about this thousand-year-old tradition and how to heal people with food. That made me change the menu and avoid ingredients which people do not really need. Speaking of health, nuts and dried fruits are lauded for being an excellent addition to healthy diets. How do you use nuts and dried fruits in your menu? We use almonds, hazelnuts, pecans and cashews all the time, as well as their oils. Dried fruits like apricots, raisins and dates, we use to sweeten dishes instead of using sugar. Apart from health, nuts and dried fruits also add great taste and texture to many dishes. For you, what can nuts and dried fruits add to a recipe? Nuts are crunchy and oxidative, as we always combine truffle with hazelnuts. You are not just the owner and chef at Restaurant Tim Raue. You embrace the entrepreneur spirit, getting involved in many aspects of the culinary world. What can we expect to see from Tim Raue in the future? Do you have any exciting projects that you’re working on? I never make plans, so it comes naturally, and I have no clue where and when. QUICK FIRE ROUND What do you enjoy the most about being a chef? It’s my passion. What is your personal favorite dish with nuts or dried fruits? Topinambur with hazelnut, winter truffle & raisins and nutty butter. What is the next big gastronomical trend in the world? I don`t care, I hate trends, I love traditions. What nuts and dried fruits do you always have in your kitchen at home? Nothing, I love to go out to restaurants. Check out the Chef Raue's Quince, Macadamia & Passion Fruit Recipe! Eating Nuts Make You Gain Weight?Nuts and Weight Gain As we mentioned nuts are energy-dense foods so for those who are worried let’s start with some facts. A recent study published in Obesity Reviews, the highest-ranked journal in the field of obesity, explored just how nut consumption is related to weight management. Researchers gathered data from past randomized controlled trials and a meta-analysis of prospective cohort trials, a study that follows a group of similar individuals of a period of time and monitors health indicators. After extensive analysis, the authors concluded that the current evidence shows that nut consumption of the recommended 30-45 grams per day is not associated with increased adiposity measures and therefore the concern that nut intake will lead to weight gain is unjustified [1]. Another study also concluded that replacing less healthy food with nuts as part of a healthy dietary pattern may help mitigate the gradual weight gain common during adulthood, and beneficially contribute to the prevention of obesity[2]. And, to convince you even further, it has also been said that snacking on nuts could increase satiety, basically meaning the feeling of fullness and therefore potentially reducing how much you eat that day[3]. So, there you have the science. Like we said at the beginning, nuts, do deliver calories but when eaten as part of a healthy lifestyle, not salted or sweetened, and in keeping with the recommended daily allowance (28 g/1 oz), there is no reason to fear eating nuts due to weight gain. More Reasons to Add Nuts into your Diet As well as this, adding nuts into your diet can provide you with a range of other health benefits. So, let us leave you with 5 more reasons to add nuts to your daily diet:   Many nuts contain antioxidants known as polyphenols, which may protect your cells from oxidative stress i.e., aging. Nuts are a great source of dietary fiber that feeds the gut microbiome which may lead to a positive impact on digestive health. Nuts have been associated with better cardiovascular health. Nuts are a good source of plant-based protein. Higher nut consumption has been linked to better cognitive function in the elderly. Don’t forget, if you need more inspiration, you can go and take a look at our healthy nut recipes! [1] Nishi, S. K., Viguiliouk, E., Blanco Mejia, S., Kendall, C. W., Bazinet, R. P., Hanley, A. J., ... & Sievenpiper, J. L. (2021). Obesity Reviews, e13330. [2] Liu X, Li Y, Guasch-Ferré M, et al. Changes in nut consumption influence long-term weight change in US men and women. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health 2019 [3] Wang, J., Wang, S., Henning, S. M., Qin, T., Pan, Y., Yang, J., ... & Li, Z. (2021). Nutrients, 13(5), 1512. Power for Real People Is BackGiven the success of the Real Power for Real People campaign in 2020/2021, the INC is pleased to inform this year's campaign will be a continuation of Real Power for Real People.   Launching last October, the first installment saw the message between nuts and dried fruits and attitudinal immunity being shared with millions of people across the globe. The main video gained over 1.79 million views on YouTube and 30 influencers from 17 different countries got on board to help us share the message with influencer posts about the campaign gaining over 1.4 million interactions from their followers.   Thanks to this success, this year, we’re expanding on the message to reach new audiences and taking the campaign to the next level. To do so, 6 new video capsules have been created targeting new audiences like, gamers, athletes, foodies (healthy lifestyle), artists, influencers and entrepreneurs, and are now being distributed across the INC’s social media channels. To date, the videos have grabbed the attention of these new audiences gaining a combined total of 1.57 million views. Other contents have also been created to help inspire individuals to start consuming more nuts and dried fruits, such as a special Instagram filter that shows users their “Nutfruit Superpower” and various GIF materials, perfect for sharing on social media.   To help us spread the message further, you can get involved and share the contents through your social media channels by following these simple steps: Go to YouTube and share the six video capsules: or share them on Instagram by reposting the following posts and then keep a look out for the next installments as we will be releasing one video per month: Instagram post 1 gamers, Instagram post 2 artists. Visit the INC's Instagram channel @nutfruitpower on a mobile device and follow these instructions to share and use the Instagram filter for Nutfruit Superpowers: Real Power Filter Start to create an Instagram story and then follow these instructions to use the many different Gifs for this campaign: Real Power Gifs As you can see, it is super easy to join the campaign and help spread the message of Real Power for Real People! So don't wait any longer, get started now and help the INC reach millions of people around the globe. Plant-Based Diet and the Role of Nuts and Dried FruitsWhat is a plant-based diet? Well, pretty much what the name implies. A plant-based diet is basically a diet consisting of mainly eating foods derived from plants such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, tubers, seeds, whole grains and of course, nuts and dried fruits and, eating fewer (or no, if this is your choice) foods that derive from animal products or foods that contain sugars, salt and saturated fats. The Mediterranean Diet, for example, could be considered as a plant-based diet, as within it, foods deriving from plants are more predominant than sugars, salt and saturated fats, which are all reduced. Why go plant-based? The Eat-Lancet Commission presented[1] the global planetary health diet with main objective to define targets for healthy diets and sustainable food production. The diet is based on an increase in consumption of healthy foods, and a decrease in consumption of red meat, sugar, and refined grains i.e. a plant-based diet. Following this type of diet may aid in the prevention of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes[2], and may also help improve your cardiovascular health[3]. Additionally, this diet also increases the likelihood of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as presented by the United Nations. Why are nuts and dried fruits so important? Nuts are energy-dense foods packed with vitamins and minerals therefore, adding them into your diet will give you the nutritional boost you need. They are high in “good” fats which research has shown can be beneficial for our health when eaten as part of a healthy diet and are also a good source of plant-based protein. Also, each nut offers different nutritional benefits, so eating a combination can ensure you get a variety of nutrients in each serving. Traditional dried fruits (without added sugar) can also be beneficial as they provide a concentrated form of vitamins and minerals. Dried fruits have many health benefits, especially relating to blood sugar levels and type 2 diabetes. Also, their daily consumption could provide the full benefits of some essential nutrients such as fiber in dates, or vitamin A in dried apricots, which helps maintain normal vision and skin. Simple tips for going plant-based Going plant-based doesn’t have to be vegetarian or vegan, unless you want it to be. Each person is different but, here a few things to get started.   You don’t have to do everything all at once start with small steps, like having a meat free Monday for example or, start eating whole grains instead of refined. Like we mentioned you don’t have to cut out meat entirely but change the way you think about. Use it as a garnish and not as the main part of your meal. One that goes without saying, eat lots of vegetables (at least two portions a day). Fill half your plate with vegetables and include plenty of colors. Vegetables can be cooked in so many ways so there’s no excuse to get bored by them. Include more portions of pulses/legumes in your diet, ideally 2-4 per week. Plan your meals ahead before you do your shop that way, you’ll ensure you have the right ingredients in when needed. If you want some inspiration have a look at our Buddha bowls.   If you’re thinking of going plant-based or already doing so, share your thoughts or tips with us over on our social media channels.   [1] Willett, W., Rockström, J., Loken, B., Springmann, M., Lang, T., Vermeulen, S., ... & Jonell, M. (2019). Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT–Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The Lancet. [2] Qian, F., Liu, G., Hu, F. B., Bhupathiraju, S. N., & Sun, Q. (2019). Association Between Plant-Based Dietary Patterns and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA internal medicine, 179(10), 1335–1344. Advance online publication. [3] Satija, A., & Hu, F. B. (2018). Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health. Trends in cardiovascular medicine, 28(7), 437–441. Chats Thai Cusine with Michelin Star Chef, Chumpol JangrpaiChumpol Jangprai is a widely recognized Michelin-starred chef and a true ambassador of Thai cuisine. He is the co-founder and executive chef of the two Michelin star restaurant R-HANN in Bangkok, Thailand. He has gone on to become a celebrity chef in Thailand, making various TV appearances and even opening an online culinary academy, TCA (Thai Cuisine Academy). When did you know that you wanted to be a chef? And what steps did you first take on your culinary journey? I first knew that I wanted to be a chef when I was 19 years old, but I started cooking when I was 18. By the time, I had turned 19, I made the decision that I wanted to be a professional chef. My first experience in the kitchen was helping my grandmother cook when I was 6 years old. At 15 years old, I began university and I would cook in the morning and then the afternoons, I would go to school. During my third year in the university, I moved to Copenhagen to work as a cook in a Scandinavian hotel and this is where I had my first true job in the food industry.   Thai cuisine is growing around the world and more and more people are becoming familiar with it, but how would you describe Thai food? What makes it special to you? For me, one of the best descriptions of Thai food is that it is a delicious food medicine in the sense that it is a healthy cuisine and it is a medicinal cuisine. Secondly, I would describe Thai cuisine as a symphony of taste, because when done correctly, each dish should be full of so many different flavors. There are 5 senses and 8 different tastes in which a Thai dish can touch on, and it is all about combining the flavors and giving the customer a wide range of experiences. For example, in my Massaman Curry, I use 32 ingredients and this together is a symphony of flavors and tastes.   You have had numerous appearances on television, and you’ve become a celebrity. What plans do you have next? New restaurants? More TV appearances? What can we expect from Chef Chumpol Jangprai? I think there are two main things to expect. First, I am opening my culinary school called Thai Cuisine Academy which enables me to share my experience and knowledge with the newer generation and with those people who have a passion for cooking. Located in Bangkok, this school helps me transfer my skills to new people and I’m excited to offer the school in-person and online. Secondly, I would like to expand and grow my restaurant R.H.A.N.N which is currently a 2-Star Michelin restaurant. My goal is to develop and create new ideas and hopefully earn the third Michelin Star. Then of course, I would like to take it to some of the biggest cities around the world to show that we can do fine dining with traditional Thai food alongside with innovation. Additionally, I am working on a TV show here in Thailand, but also, I am helping local communities invest in restaurants and helping them to set up their own eateries and fine dining establishments.   You are a 2-Star Michelin Chef, and considered one of the top chefs worldwide. What does this recognition mean for you? Has it changed your relationship with cooking and has your cooking style evolved since you started getting widespread recognition for your food? Actually, for me, the Michelin Stars are like Hollywood awards that actors and actresses receive because, for a chef, it is one of the top acknowledgments in the industry. I really appreciate the value that the Michelin Guide brings to my restaurant and to know that the best chefs around the world are being recognized with it. However, the Michelin Stars cannot and do not change my relationship with Thai cuisine and my cooking style. If anything, they help me to keep energy and stay motivated for developing new ideas and being better.   You value using the best quality products, so for you, how do you ensure that you have the freshest and highest quality ingredients? I have a lot of contact with local farms and villages all around Thailand, and I change my menu three times each year to align with the three different seasons that we have here in Thailand: summer, rainy, and winter. I do my best to match my menu with the season to ensure the freshest ingredients are being used, and now we are also buying directly from the farmers and producers because this increases the quality of our ingredients. Also, I love going to the market as much as possible to see which products are available.   What role do nuts and dried fruits play in your cooking and also general in Thai cuisine? So, nuts and dried fruits are common in Thai cuisine, and often times you’ll see them being used in appetizers, salads, and of course in curries. I am working on a chicken cashew dish, as it is becoming more and more popular around the world. Using chicken and cashews together has been gaining popularity especially over the past 30 years. The cashew nut is used a lot in any massaman curry, and we also use peanuts quite a bit as well. More and more we are using dried fruits now, as Thai cuisine is considered healthy, they make great additions. We use dried fruit a lot in deserts as a way to add sweetness.   What flavors do you appreciate from nuts and dried fruits? For me, nuts and dried fruits add another layer of texture to dishes. Layers of texture in dishes are loved in Thai cuisine, and in Thai food, we need crunchy, so nuts deliver on this aspect perfectly. Also, the dried fruits can give an aroma to dishes, which enhances the experience of eating, but there is also natural sweetness coming from the dried fruits. In conclusion, nuts and dried fruits add to the symphony of tastes!   QUICK FIRE ROUND What is the best part of being a chef? Providing customers with the best quality food. What is your personal favorite dish with nuts or dried fruits? My massaman curry! You can use any kind of nut! What is the next big gastronomical trend in the world? Functional and medical food. What nuts and dried fruits do you always have in your kitchen? Cashews, peanuts, and raisins for sure! Check out Chef Jangprai's Stir Fried Chicken with Cashew Nut recipe! the Myths of a Plant-Based DietPlant-based eating is the same as veganism or vegetarianism The simple answer is NO. A vegan diet excludes all products that derive from animals from the diet and often lifestyle, including dairy, eggs and of course meat, poultry and fish. While a vegetarian diet allows some animal-based products such as eggs and dairy but it does not include meat, poultry or fish. A plant-based diet on the other hand means adopting a way of eating that prioritizes whole plant foods but doesn’t eliminate any food group altogether.   A plant-based diet is restrictive Quite the opposite! As mentioned above a plant-based diet does not exclude any food group making it rather nonrestrictive. A plant-forward diet means making more of your meals veggie based and eating more plant derived products in general including legumes, vegetables and of course including products such as nuts and dried fruits. A way to think of it is that foods that derive from plants should take up the main portion of your plate and other food groups, such as meat, should be thought of as a condiment. Just take a look at our buddha bowl recipes if you want some inspiration. You can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet Again, this is not the case. Protein can be found in a number of foods therefore; the key to getting enough protein is to ensure that you are eating a balanced diet. Did you know that most nuts are a good source of protein? Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and peanuts are all a healthy source of plant-based protein which means that by adding them into your daily diet they can help you increase your daily protein intake. You’ll be hungry on a plant-based diet As above, if you ensure that you eat an overall balanced diet you shouldn't be feeling those hunger pangs. Many foods that are staple in plant-based cuisine such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and dried fruits and legumes are good sources of fiber which is likely to leave you feeling fuller for longer. Also, people who go plant-based also tend to eat less processed foods which means less snacking on sugary snacks and more leaning towards those healthy pick-me-ups. Nuts and dried fruits, for example, make for a great healthy snack for many reasons. They contain many nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals which may help reduce overall hunger[1].  And, as well as this there are so many delicious ways to eat them. So there you have it, four of the most common myths DEBUNKED! If you're thinking of starting a plant-based diet check out our article A Plant-Based Diet and the Role of Nuts and Dried Fruits to get you started. [2] Hollingworth, S., Dalton, M., Blundell, J. E., & Finlayson, G. (2019). Evaluation of the Influence of Raw Almonds on Appetite Control: Satiation, Satiety, Hedonics and Consumer Perceptions. Nutrients, 11(9), 2030. Importance of Omega 3 and the Benefits of Nuts by Nutritionist, Carlos RiosOmega 3 fatty acids confer cardiovascular benefits through different mechanisms such as reducing triglycerides and exerting anti-inflammatory effects and many more.   Currently, with covid-19 as a primary concern, there are also reviews such as the one conducted by Hathaway et al. (2020) that examine the importance of maintaining an adequate intake of omega 3 fatty acids to promote better immune function, reduce viral invasion and, in this way, possibly reduce the severity of the disease in question. However, the benefits do not stop there since omega 3 fatty acids have been said to have preventive effects against different types of diseases such as diabetes, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, macular degeneration, in addition to cardiovascular disease. Each cell in our body has a thin membrane made up of two layers of lipid molecules that needs to be functional to facilitate physiological responses. The lack of omega 3 fatty acids in the diet can change the composition of the cell membrane; hurting us greatly, hence the importance of getting your recommended daily intake. What is the Daily Recommended Amount of Omega 3 Institutions such as the American Heart Association recommend consuming at least 500mg a day of omega 3 fatty acids (EPA + DHA) Other institutions such as EFSA place the recommendation at 250mg / day While the dietary reference intakes for linolenic acid developed by the National Academy of Medicine establish intakes of 1.6g ALA for adult men and 1-1.1g ALA for adult women   Among nuts, walnuts provide us with 9.08g of ALA per 100g. A tablespoon of chia or flax seeds provides us with almost 5g and 6g of ALA respectively. However, in the case of seeds, it has been said that applying techniques such as soaking for at least 2 hours increases the bioavailability of the different fatty acids so that our body can take better advantage of them.   Therefore, a serving of nuts a day (around 30g) together with the consumption of oily fish at least 2-3 days a week and other foods would cover the recommended intake. In case of being vegan or vegetarian (patterns that exclude fish), guaranteeing the daily presence of foods rich in ALA becomes vital. However, the use of EPA and DHA supplements may also be helpful in this context as well as the daily intake of nuts and dried fruits as explained below. How Nuts Can Benefit Us  Nuts present different macro and micronutrients of great interest that make up their food matrix and whose benefits extend to their effects on appetite control without showing negative influences on body weight as is commonly believed. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated acids, fiber, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and bioactive compounds such as phytosterols and polyphenols.   The beneficial effects of nuts are due to the harmonious effects of all these nutrients together and not just alpha-linolenic acid alone. Another benefit of consuming nuts is that due to the fact they are an energy-dense food they can help keep you fuller for longer and therefore are a great way to replace the consumption of ultra-processed foods between meals.   Sources: Hathaway, D, (2020). Omega 3 Fatty Acids and COVID-19: A Comprehensive Review. Published online Dec 08, 2020.    Kim, Y., Keogh, J., & Clifton, P. (2018). Nuts and Cardio-Metabolic Disease: A Review of Meta-Analyses. Nutrients, 10(12), 1935. Pahlavani, N., Rostami, D., Ebrahimi, F., & Azizi-Soleiman, F. (2019). Nuts effects in chronic disease and relationship between walnuts and Satiety: Review on the available evidence. Obesity Medicine, 100173. Bitok, E., & Sabaté, J. (2018). Nuts and Cardiovascular Disease. In Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases (Vol. 61, Issue 1, pp. 33–37). W.B. Saunders. Talk With Critically Acclaimed Chef, Manoella BuffaraYou started out your career in journalism, so when did you know that cooking and becoming a chef was what you truly wanted to do? I went to the United States when I was 16 to learn English and one of the jobs I had was in a kitchen. Once I returned to Brazil, my parents told me that I could not be a cook and that I had to go to university. So, I chose Journalism, but during my education, I continued to cook and work in restaurants. My grandmother had told me that if I wanted to become a chef, I needed to work in Italy as a dishwasher first and try other jobs in the kitchen to see if I truly like it. So, I took one year break and went to Italy to get some experience. This was hard for my parents because they were determined that I finish university, so I ended up working at night and did my classes during the day to finish.   How would you describe Brazilian cuisine? Brazil is such a big and diverse country and the cuisine is equally diverse. You can have a meal in south Brazil that uses completely different flavors from a meal in northern Brazil. Each state is really different because we are a country made up of many people from Europe, Africa, and many other places around the world, it is a mix of culture. Each cook is inspired by their own life and their own experiences and this influences the many flavors that are used.   In 2020, you planned on opening your restaurant Ella in Manhattan. What inspired you to take Brazilian cuisine abroad? And do you have plans on growing even more? We were supposed to open a new restaurant in March of 2020, but as everyone knows, COVID-19 disrupted those plans. I was in New York in February of 2020 preparing everything, but we had to postpone the opening. We prefer to open when things return to a sense of normality and we want to open a restaurant for people when they are happy, so we have decided to open at the end of 2021. Manu is my restaurant in Brazil and I decided to go with Ella in New York as my name is Manoella. I was inspired to share Brazil cuisine because internationally when you see a Brazilian restaurant it is most likely our barbeques or feijoada, but I want to show New York, which I think is the center of the world for food, what the true flavor of Brazil is. It is one of first Brazilian restaurants that will be more fine dining.   Over your career so far, you have won many awards, including being on the list of the top 100 chefs in the world. What is the reason so many people appreciate your cooking style and your food?   I think people like it because of the unique flavors that I use in my cooking, but it is not only because of the food. It is also about the work that I do in my community and in my city. It is how I think food can change a nation and how it is the future. Cooking is about everything from producers and the ingredients. It is really nice to win awards, but when you open up a restaurant, you have a responsibility. People expect something amazing when they come to your restaurant and that is challenging for a chef. Each and every day, I am challenged to be better and make my food better. This is what I think is exciting in the life of a chef.   Sustainability and quality ingredients mean a lot to you. Why is this so important to you and how do nuts and dried fruits play a role in creating a sustainable menu? We are living in a constantly changing world and it is more than just saying you are sustainable. We have to understand the importance of the food we select in the markets, and ask ourselves if this is sustainable. Brazil has a lot of dried fruits and nuts and it is a part of our lunch and dinner every day. In the restaurant we use a lot of nut-based drinks from almonds and Brazil nuts. The flavor is so incredible and you get more flavors, like acidity when you burn the Brazil nuts and you make the oil. It is a pure and incredible flavor and it is something that more and more people are doing. These ingredients will play a role in the future. Dried fruit can also provide an alternative way of adding sweetness to your food and I think this is the responsibility of the chef to include the best ingredients possible.   How are nuts and dried fruits used in your cooking style and in general, in Brazilian Cuisine? Today, we use all of the nuts. We use a lot of the different nut oils like cashew and Brazil nut oils. As I said before, our restaurant incorporates many types of nut-based drinks and we love to because of the unique flavor they bring. They are not only used in the restaurants, but in the homes of many Brazilians.   What is one thing that you have learned that you would like to share with our readers? We have to look more closely at the food we consume and we have to understand the entire process that goes on behind the food we eat. I also like to encourage people to not use recipes, but be creative and cook more at home. Our kids are the future and they need to be able to remember what grandma’s kitchen smelled like and have the experiences and memories of cooking.   Quick fire round (short questions with short answers) What is the best part of being a chef? The connection with the products and people. What is the next big gastronomical trend in the world? People will look more for healthy foods. What nuts and dried fruits do you always have in your kitchen? Almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, and really, just about all of the nuts. Want to try a taste of Manu? Have a go at her recipe and let us know how it goes using #ShareYourNutFruitPower Cauliflower, Passion Fruit and Peanuts to Create Routine and Structure When the World Feels Out of Control by Registered Dietitian Nicole OsingaAll of these changes (which we can’t actually control) likely have impacted our eating and self-care routines as well. However, those routines are the ones that we can control! Let me show you how I have created structure with my nutrition and physical activity routines, during these “out-of-control” times. Meal Planning & Meal Prepping Don’t. Stop. Planning. I believe that a major reason why our nutrition has been impacted by the pandemic, is because we’re not meal planning or prepping in the same way! The perception is that we’re at home – so why do you need to prep? Food is always available! Well, when hunger strikes, we are not very likely to take 30-45 minutes our of our day to prep a meal. I mean, kudos to you if you do! My advice: regardless if you’re working from home or not, always have at least a few meals ready or parts of meals accessible, that you can use throw together to create a quick and tasty meals. Accessible Snacks Snacking can get out of control while we’re spending more time at home. Especially when we are doing mindless activities, such as watching or playing a video game! We have to remember that as humans, we eat for convenience. Let’s work with this natural tendency and have filling in satiating snacks on hand – ones that balance blood sugars so that we don’t keep snacking! Key ingredients for these snacks? Nuts and dried fruits. The nuts give us staying power (from the protein, healthy fat and fibre) so that we feel full for longer and the dried fruits give us long lasting energy so that we can remain adequately fueled throughout our day. For example, I love me a good chocolate avocado pudding with dates and nuts! This recipe can be easily whipped up, as you need it, within 5 minutes. This yogurt bark is also a winner, as I can easy store it frozen. We can’t forget about these cashew cheesecake bites either, which is also frozen! All of them are made with nuts and dried fruits, providing me with long-lasting energy and fullness! Daily Movement Be it running, walking the dog or biking on my workstation bike, daily movement keeps me sane but also provides structure.  Each day I “book” a meeting my calendar with the movement of choice that I plan to do. This way, I know I will get to it and it also provides a good break in my day. After my movement of choice, I feel so much more refreshed and ready to focus on my next task! Let’s take advantage of working from home and incorporate a mid-day workout over lunch hour – because you can! Let’s watch our productivity soar!   Nicole Osinga is a registered dietitian, with the College of Dietitians of Ontario, holding a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition. Nicole aims to promote the pleasure and enjoyment of eating through her work. She highlights mindful eating concepts with clients and focuses on intuitive eating patterns. Impact of Nuts and Dried Fruits on Your Digestive HealthCan gut bacteria improve your health? About 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, live inside your digestive system. Collectively, they're known as the gut microbiota1. Within those trillions of gut bacteria, there are about 1,000 different species, represented by some 5,000 distinct bacterial strains. Everyone's gut microbiota is unique, but there are certain combinations and collections of bacteria that are found in healthy individuals. The main factors that affect your personal microbial mix are age, diet, environment, genes, and medications (particularly exposure to antibiotics, which can deplete gut bacteria). Your gut microbiota plays many roles. It metabolizes nutrients from food and certain medications, serves as a protective barrier against intestinal infections, and produces vitamin K, which helps make blood-clotting proteins. Since the gut microbiota is so complex, it is difficult to pinpoint certain bacteria as the most beneficial. The role of nuts and dried fruits in gut microbiota Nuts are foods (prebiotics) for the bacteria (probiotics) and nut skins in particular, appear to play an important role since they are rich in fiber and polyphenols, with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties2. Studies conducted with almonds3 and pistachios4 have reported increases in the growth of beneficial bacteria leading to increased butyrate – a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) – which is thought to keep colon cells healthy. Keys for a healthy gut microbiota composition A healthy host–microorganisms balance must be respected in order to optimally maintain the intestinal barrier and immune system functions and, consequently, prevent disease development.   Food components have a key impact on the gut microbiota, influencing its composition in terms of richness and diversity. On the one hand, high intake of animal proteins, saturated fat, sugar, and salt could stimulate the growth of pathogenic bacteria to the detriment of beneficial bacteria, leading to potential alterations of the intestinal barrier. On the other hand, the consumption of complex polysaccharides and plant protein could be associated with an increase of beneficial bacteria quantity, stimulating SCFA production. Moreover, omega-3, polyphenols, and micronutrients appear to have the potential to confer health benefits via modulation of the gut microbiota.   As you can see, dietary habits can strongly influence gut microbiota composition5. So make sure you maintain a healthy diet with the foods mentioned above and remember to include nuts and dried fruits.   [1]Harvard Health Publishing: [2] Lamuel-Raventos, R.M. and M.S. Onge, Prebiotic nut compounds and human microbiota. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 2017. 57(14): p. 3154-3163. [3] Liu, Z., et al., Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans. Anaerobe, 2014. 26: p. 1-6. [4] Ukhanova, M., et al., Effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition in a randomised cross-over human feeding study. Br J Nutr, 2014. 111(12): p. 2146-52. [5] Rinninella, E., Cintoni, M., Raoul, P., Lopetuso, L. R., Scaldaferri, F., Pulcini, G., Miggiano, G., Gasbarrini, A., & Mele, M. C. (2019). Food Components and Dietary Habits: Keys for a Healthy Gut Microbiota Composition. Nutrients, 11(10), 2393. Valentine's Day Show Your Heart You Love ItPlace Nuts in Your Daily Routine It might be obvious that we’re going to say this but, it’s true! Adding several small servings of nuts in to your diet each week may be an important factor in keeping your heart healthy (30 g is the recommended daily allowance). The reason being that, although the fat profile differs from one to another, nuts are a good source of unsaturated fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated). These fats are otherwise known as good fats, which, as studies have shown, when eaten as part of a healthy diet, may help you to maintain healthy cholesterol levels reducing your risk of heart disease. In fact, regular consumption of nuts has been associated to a reduction between 7 and 10% in “bad cholesterol” (LDL). As well as their high monounsaturated fat content nuts are also full of other nutrients that can be beneficial to our heart health.    Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are normally associated with being found in fish, but many nuts also are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are healthy fatty acids that can help protect the heart and blood vessels from disease. Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. In addition, fiber is thought to play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes. Vitamin E. Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.   Don't Forget the Dried Fruits Although not as well known for maintaining a good heart health it's important to note here that dried fruits can help. Dried fruits contain fiber and antioxidants called phenols, even more per once than fresh fruit. Fiber as mentioned above can help fights heart disease, and it has been shown that people with diets rich in plant phenols (found in dried fruits) have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, several kinds of cancer, and possibly degenerative brain diseases. A Perfect Addition to Any Dish Now you’ve seen why you should add them in to your diet the next is how. Nuts and dried fruits are so versatile they can be easily introduced in our daily habits. They can be added to breakfast options, crushed on top of salads and pastas or even eaten plain as healthy snack. Plus, if you’re feeling more adventurous, nuts and dried fruits work wonders with many dishes belonging to all kinds of different culinary cultures. We’ve left you a few amazing examples below. Gongura Chicken with Cranberry Almond Quinoa Monkfish Wrapped in Dry Romesco with Picada and Sofrito Cooked Two Ways Sautéed Scallops, Broad Beans with Smoked Bacon, Espelette Pepper And Caramelized Hazelnuts So, there you have it. By adding these little bundles of joy into your daily diet you may be helping to keep your heart healthy! to Make Your Own Nut Drink in 3 Easy StepsWhy Nut Drinks Rich in nutrients and source of plant-based protein, nut drinks are naturally vegan, and — unless you have a nut allergy, of course — quite allergy-friendly. But, as well as their amazing health benefits, they are also extremely versatile being perfect in your breakfast smoothie, your afternoon latte and great in so many recipes such as breads, sauces, desserts, and other baked goods with very little impact on flavor.  But, have you ever tried making your own? Nut Drink Basics Not only is making your own nut drink cost-effective, but it’s also delicious and easier than you think! So before we get started on the how-to, here a few basics to lend you a helping hand.   Buy raw nuts. Not only do they last longer, but they also soak a lot better. Make sure the nuts are fresh and the best quality you can afford. Rancid nuts make for rancid nut milk. Buy nuts without the skin, you’ll just have to peel it off later. Soak Your Nuts Overnight. Soaking softens the nuts and helps bring out their delicious flavors. How to Make Your Own Nut Drink Now you know the basics here’s how to make your own nut drink in three easy steps. Step 1: Soak The first thing you need to do is soak your nuts (around 130 g) for at least a couple of hours, but if you can it’s always best if you let them soak overnight to bring out the flavors, like we mentioned above. And, always make sure to drain and rinse them after.   Step 2: Blend Mix your soaked nuts with 700ml of water and, if you wish, add a sweetener such as honey, agave, or maple syrup and blend until smooth. You may have to pulse a few times at the beginning to break the nuts up.   Step 3: Strain Although not a necessity, we suggest straining out the milk to get rid of any pulp. To strain you can use a muslin cloth or even a coffee filter but if you’re planning on repeating the nut drink process often you may want to invest in a nut bag.  Don’t throw out the pulp. By making your nut milk at home you’re left with this amazing byproduct which you can save and use later in smoothies or baked goods for example.   And there you have it, done! Once you’ve had your first tipple make sure you keep the nut drink in the refrigerator where it will last up to five days.   Made your own nut drink? Share your recipes and tips with us by tagging @nutfruithealth using #NutfruitPower #PlantBasedPower. you go plant based in 2021? By Dietitian & Nutritionist, Rebecca GawthorneWhat is a Plant-Based Diet?   A plant-based diet is not just another fad diet that you try for a week and “fall-off the band-wagon”. It’s a long-term, sustainable way of eating that can benefit your physical and mental health.   A plant-based diet is exactly as the name suggests: it’s a diet based on plants.   Plant foods include vegetables, fruit (including dried fruit), legumes, nuts, seeds, wholegrains, herbs and spices.    Now when I refer to a plant-based diet, I’m not referring to a “plant exclusive” or “plant only” diet. Some people may define a plant-based diet this way (which is totally fine). But as a Dietitian - and I know many other health professionals agree - I believe a plant-based diet means a diet based on plant foods. Or another term I like to use is “plant filled diet”; a diet filled with plants.    Plant based diets are not restrictive. They don’t cut out entire food groups and they are flexible. You can still include foods like fish, meat, dairy and eggs in smaller amounts if you wish. The goal is to make plant foods the focus of every meal. You’re aiming to eat more plant foods than animal-based foods, not the other way around. Make plant foods the star of your plate!   Why go plant based?   Adopting a plant-based diet can benefit your physical and mental health, as well as be helping the planet and even your hip pocket. Here are just some of the reasons you should go plant based this year: For a healthier, longer life - a plant-based diet can help you live a healthier and longer life. By simply eating more plant foods each day, you can improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Let’s take nuts for example. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that “the consumption of nuts was inversely associated with total mortality in both men and women, independently of other predictors of death. Participants who regularly consumed a one-ounce (28 g) daily serving of nuts had a 20 percent lower death rate, compared to those who did not consume nuts.” This study is the largest ever conducted investigating the effects of nut intake on mortality. For your nutrients - plant foods are rich in nutrients that our body needs on a daily basis. Plant foods like legumes and nuts contain plant proteins. Spices are loaded with antioxidants. Vegetables are rich in micronutrients and fruit, including dried fruits (e.g. dried figs, dates, dried apricots, dried cranberries, prunes and raisins), can help provide us with fibre, potassium, calcium, iron and vitamins like vitamin A & vitamin K. For a healthy weight - if your New Year’s Resolution is to lose weight, swap this for the goal of eating more plant foods or going plant based! Most of us know that vegetables are beneficial for maintaining a healthy weight. But did you know that even plant foods like nuts, which are an energy dense food with a high fat content, can also help you maintain a healthy weight?! Research shows that nuts are actually associated with a decreased risk of being overweight or obese. Those who eat nuts are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t eat nuts, and are more likely to be a healthy weight. For your gut health - plant foods are rich in fibre, which is essential for a healthy functioning gut. Research has linked a plant-based diet to greater microbial diversification. This is because plant-based diets are rich in prebiotics – the food for our healthy gut bacteria. Different probiotics feed off different prebiotics, so enjoy eating a variety and abundance of plant-based foods is key! Click here to learn more about prebiotics, plant foods and a healthy gut. For attitudinal immunity - eating more plant foods can help you feel good from the inside out. When we feel good from the inside out, there is nothing that can bring us down. This is the concept of attitudinal immunity - when we feel good, we are immune to the negativity around us. Eating plant foods like vegetables, nuts, fruits including dried fruits, legumes and wholegrains, can make you feel good physically and mentally and give us the real plant-based power and the attitudinal immunity we need to face everyday challenges. Grab a handful of nuts and dried fruit, boost your plant intake’ and power up your day! For the environment - studies show that animal foods are the planet’s leading source of greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to a plant based diet can help reduce greenhouse gasses, and we can even go a step further and particularly with a focus on local, seasonal plant based eating.  It’s sustainable - adopting a plant-based diet is sustainable. It’s not just a quick fix or a 12 week challenge; it’s a long term sustainable lifestyle change. Eating more plant foods can help you achieve your health goals for 2021 and beyond! If you want to go plant based and eat more plants in 2021, remember to include a variety of vegetables, legumes, fruits (including dried fruits), nuts, seeds, wholegrains and spices each day.   Rebecca, is a lover of health, fitness and summer, she is an energetic Dietitian with a powerful influence in the online health space. Rebecca is passionate about plant-filled eating and her credible, yet easy to relate to tone, has made her one of Australia’s go-to girls for professional nutrition advice. To see more from Rebecca follow her over on Instagram @nourish_naturally or check out her website. Talks with Michelin Star Chef, Carme RuscalledaOne of the most well-known chefs in all of Catalonia and Spain, when did you first begin cooking? I feel as if cooking and I have gone hand in hand since I was a child. I started to take family cooking responsibilities at 12 years old. Cooking always interested me and for personal and professional growth, it guided my steps, and I became a chef. Your popularity grew with your restaurant, Sant Pau in Barcelona, but you also decided to open a restaurant in Japan by the same name. What was appealing about Japan and why did you open another restaurant there? We opened Sant Pau in Tokyo in the spring of 2004. It was a proposal and offer given to us by Yuji Shimoyama, a Japanese businessman. Without a doubt, it is one of the most interesting things that has happened to me in my life! I had admired Japanese cuisine before starting to work with them, but now, I admire it even more after the 16 years working together; I have learned so much and their Japanese cuisine philosophy has become engrained in my mind. Since my experience in Japan, my cooking has become even better and more interesting! Mediterranean cuisine has been trending recently, what do believe is the future of Mediterranean food?   My cooking style is completely of Mediterranean origin; it is the style of cooking that I learned since I was a child, that of fishermen and farmers. I have defended this cooking culture since the first day I opened my restaurant, because it added originality and a common sense of discourse both culinary and personal to Sant Pau when it opened in 1988. I predict a wonderful future for Mediterranean cuisine because so many professionals and consumers love it, they search for it and they defend it! A lot of your food combines Catalan and Eastern cuisine. What is so special and unique about this combination? I don’t think it is about combining, but rather professional growth. It is not a fusion, but an inspiration with sold gastronomic arguments. For example, the Japanese broth Dashi, which is used so much in Japanese cuisine, I can use this in Mediterranean food because the components of the Dashi significantly enhance the flavors of food. Our “Dashi de Romesco” is proof of this. Or our “Pichón deshuesado”, stuffed with barbecue and with a touch of salted Sakura leaves, it gives and elegant and exceptional gourmet fragrance.   Over the years, you have been awarded with the numerous Michelin Stars. What has this meant to you and your restaurants? I have always considered the Michelin Stars as the best business card for the world of gastronomy. A guide like Michelin, steers demanding and knowledgeable gourmet chefs all over the world. I believe that Michelin rewards strength, talent, creativity, and quality. For these reasons, I am delighted to have guided gourmets to Sant Pol de Mar and to continue guiding them to Sant Pau in Tokyo and Moments in Barcelona, in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. What place do nuts and dried fruits have in Catalan and Eastern cuisine? In Catalan cuisine, nuts and dried fruits are extremely appreciated! “La Picada” is one Catalan dish that uses nuts: almonds, hazelnuts, and pine nuts, which add flavor and texture to many stews. One of the oldest Catalan sauces, “Romesco”, also utilizes hazelnuts and almonds. And one of the most popular Catalan desserts, “Postres de Músic” is usually served with a variation of nuts and dried fruits, such as almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, raisins, dried apricots, and dried figs (there are those who also serve it with pistachios). In Japan, I have been able to appreciate how they also enjoy hazelnuts, almonds, pine nuts, raisins, etc. However, I have been amazed at how fruits like persimmon and mango are dried in Japan.   Quick fire round What do you most love about cooking? Feel the idea, the inspiration, and of course bring it to life.  What is your personal favorite dish? Arroz Mar y Montaña (rice dish including both seafood and meat)  What is the next big gastronomical trend in the world? I believe it will be the great melting pot of Latin American cuisine.  What nut and dried fruit do you always have in your kitchen? Everything! Hazelnuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, raisins, dried apricots, prunes, dates, etc. etc.    See Carme's recipe Food Trends Will We Be Following NextWhat are the food trends Consuming foods that boost energy, and support digestive health are among the largest and fastest growing trends. It was found that these two markets are forecasted to be the fastest growers among the health and wellness category. By 2024, the market size for products boosting energy is forecasted to grow by 50% and products supporting digestive health are forecasted to grow 32%. The study also showed that we are still also concerned about weight management when making purchasing decisions, however, it is not forecasted to grow as quickly as those previously mentioned. Immune support is on the rise One interesting trend that we are likely to start taking a hold of is looking for foods that help keep our immune system healthy. With many of us obviously concerned over the COVID-19 pandemic, our focus on a healthy diet will likely deepen. Already the trend research showed that companies are increasingly expanding into this market and this trend is expected to only grow in a post-COVID-19 normality. How can nuts and dried fruits help Thanks to their interesting nutritional profile, nuts and dried fruits can be included in the list as foods to consume to help with these individual concerns. They contain many nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals that help keep energy level higher and can aid with digestive health. Plus a mix of nuts and dried fruits contain vitamin A, vitamin B6, selenium, zinc, iron and copper that contribute to the normal function of the immune system. See our nut and dried fruit recipes to be inspired to include them in your diet. Real Power for Real People Campaign Has LaunchedThe Real Plant-Based Power and Attitudinal Immunity Real Power for Real People connects nuts & dried fruits to attitudinal immunity. We utilize the plant-based power and the “Real Power” of nuts and dried fruits to show how they boost your attitudinal immunity. While this concept may not be your traditional meaning of “immunity”, it is essential, as it represents an individual’s ability to resist the negativity that surrounds that gives them the power to overcome any challenges. Let's fight external factors that try to break down our immunity. Let us choose positive thoughts, people who contribute, optimistic news and take advantage of the energy that our nuts provide us, which through their nutrients, zinc, copper, iron, selenium and vitamin B6 contribute to the normal functioning of our immune system. And we all know that in the world today, there is just too much negativity, from the COVID-19 pandemic, social issues, to individual bad news that brings us down. Luckily by consuming nuts and dried fruits, we can have the power to take back control and beat any negativity that comes our way. Nuts and dried fruits are a great way to include some plant-based power in your everyday life and diet. We are all “Real People” and this means we are susceptible to negative influences, but with assistance from real food, we can take a step towards building our attitudinal immunity. Join Real Power for Real People and Share Your Nutfruit Power Get on board and join the INC in this campaign by getting on social media to show your Nutfruit Power. All you have to do is post a picture or video showing how eating nuts and dried fruits gives you the “Real Power” to do something amazing or resist negativity that surrounds us! Just make sure you use the hashtag #RealPowerforRealPeopl or #ShareYourNutfruitPower! Help share the goodness and nuts and dried fruits around the world and bring real plant-based power to more lives and help people boost their attitudinal immunity. We can’t wait to see the amazing Power eating nuts and dried fruits can give you! to “School” Healthy Meal IdeasBuddha Bowls, the perfect lunchtime treat Filled with plant-based goodness and with only a little preparation the night before, Buddha Bowls are the perfect takeaway meal. Not only are they normally served cold, making them a great lunchbox pick, but when made the right way they contain essential micro and macro nutrients that we need every day. Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), which we obtain from vegetables and fruits help us maintain our overall health while the macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein (animal or vegetable) and healthy fats, such as those found in nuts, will help provide us with the energy that we need to keep up with the day, making Buddha Bowls the essential lunch for you and the family. If you haven’t already discover how to make the perfect Buddha Bowl. Play hard snack right Whether at school or in the office, we can all agree that the transition from the relaxing summer days back to the early starts and organized routines can be hard. And, until everybody’s fully adjusted keeping energy levels up throughout the day can be challenging. Luckily that’s where nuts come in! Thanks to their nutritional profile nuts are energy-dense food and therefore can help keep those slumps at bay plus, thanks to their versatile flavors, they can be enjoyed in so many ways. Spice up the day with the exotic tastes of garam masala, cumin, coriander and amchoor with these delicious Spiced Roasted Cashews or if you're looking for something sweeter try our nut and dried fruits bars they’re, vegan, sugar free, a good source of plant-based and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week. So, there you have it. A few quick ideas to help keep you and your loved ones on the right and healthy track for the back to school routine! These delicious meal and snacks are so simple to make and can help put a smile on your face whatever the day might have thrown at you! And at the core of them all nuts and dried fruits, with their unique textures and flavors the possibilities are endless. If you want more ideas have a look at our easy recipes with nuts and dried fruits. News Round-Up: The importance of a healthy diet when working from homeIn theory, following a healthy diet should be easier when you’re working from home. There’s more time to prepare home-cooked meals and no office treats to tempt you. However, the reality is that keeping on track can be a challenge. Telecommuting, although it has its benefits, can also create a lack of structure within the working day which can turn meal times into chaos. And, with the refrigerator only steps away, it’s too easy to procrastinate work by making delicious treats!   So, below, we’ve broken down some of our top three articles of the month that discuss why it’s important to follow a healthy diet when working from home, what foods you should be including to maintain a healthy diet and some quick tips to help you stay on track. Why nuts and seeds make for the perfect snack while you work from home As mentioned in our previous article on healthy snacking, eating in between meals does not need to be associated with having “over indulgent treats” and done the right way can even help you get your everyday intake of essential nutrients. This, article, published on Times Now News, provides you with five reasons of why nuts should be included as part of your working for home snacking routine. Check them out.   The world’s most nutritious foods Although for some it may be difficult to maintain a healthy diet when working from home, it has also been said that as a result of the pandemic many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health, especially our immune system. As said, eating well is key to maintain a good overall health. Published by the BBC, this article goes through 100 of the world’s nutritious foods, calculated and ranked by scientists. And, of course, no list would be complete without including nuts and dried fruits with almonds, walnuts, dried figs, dried apricots and prunes making the cut. The good fats that need to be part of one’s food Fat is one of the three essential macronutrients the body needs alongside proteins and carbohydrates. As stated in this article by the Times of India “A balanced diet should include healthful monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which  include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids”.   The intake of foods that are high in unsaturated fats otherwise known as “good fats” such as, nuts, may help reduce bad cholesterol levels. As well as this they may also help to make you feel fuller for longer which means you’ll probably be less likely to reach for unhealthy foods. 5 tips to help you stay healthy when working from home Don’t work in (or near) the kitchen Plan out your snacks and meal for the day and take an actual lunch break Eat “real food”! Keep healthy snacks on hand, like nuts and dried fruits Drink plenty of water Don’t buy junk food, then you won’t be tempted to eat it   Well that’s all for this month. Hope you have enjoyed the reading and we’ll be back with another Nutfruit News Round-up in September.   The information above is a review of news the INC has compiled from press media. This article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. to Store Nuts and Dried FruitsWhy have nuts and dried fruits handy As mentioned, nuts and dried fruits are a great option to have around the home. They provide us with many essential nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals. Nuts and dried fruits also make a great healthy snack, they can be enjoyed both in sweet and savory meals plus, they’re a great food to take with you if you need to keep your energy levels up when you’re on the go. Where to keep nuts and dried fruits Nuts are best stored out of direct light and heat therefore, it is essential to find a cool, dark place to store them. The shelf life of nuts and dried fruits will also vary depending on how fresh they were at the time of purchase which, when buying in a supermarket is a difficult one to know. However, storing them in an airtight completely sealed container, preferable glass, will help keep them fresher for longer. Contrary to popular belief, nuts should be stored in the fridge as opposed to at room temperature, this is especially true for people living in hot, humid climates or during the hotter summer months. Again, when storing them in the refrigerator it is still always best to use air glass containers.  Plastic bags, as well as not being the most sustainable option, can also absorb the flavors of other foods - something that none of us want! Store nuts and dried fruit in the freezer! If you’re someone who likes to buy in bulk or know that you’re not going to use the ingredients straight away, did you know you can keep nuts and dried fruits in the freezer! In fact, dried fruit keeps very well in the freezer and can last up to 12 months when stored properly. Nuts on the other hand vary depending on the nut. Quick tips for storing nuts and dried fruits Keep them away from other strong flavored foods such as onions and garlic, as they can absorb their flavors Whole, raw nuts and seeds with stay fresh the longest. Shelled nuts have a shorter shelf life than those still in their shell.   Remember, these are just guidelines as many factors including where you live can have an impact on the shelf life of nuts and dried fruits. If you want to see some easy ways to add nuts and dried fruits into your diet take a look at our healthy breakfast recipes. Talks with Emmy Award-winning Chef, Lidia BastianichYou have become quite famous as a chef, who was the most influential person for you as you began cooking?   I learned to cook from my Nonna Rosa initially.  Until I was ten years old, I stayed with my Nonna Rosa during the summer months and most weekends in a rural town called Busoler.  My grandfather’s passion was the “campagna”, the land in Busoler where he and my grandmother grew, raised, produced, vinified, and milled everything they needed to survive.  They made cured prosciutto, milled their wheat at the flour mill and harvested olives to make olive oil.  The vegetable patch behind the courtyard produced all the vegetables and salads needed to feed us, and the surplus was jarred, dried, or cured, and saved for the winter.   I worked alongside my grandmother to plant and harvest the olives and vegetables, pick the fruits and cook the traditional flavors of the area.   Your family’s story is very inspiring. What role has family played in your love of cooking food?    My mother and father left the town of Pula when I was ten, after the city was assigned to Yugoslavia.  After spending two years in a refugee camp near Trieste, we were granted the opportunity to emigrate to the United States. Although we moved initially to New Jersey, we discovered that relatives lived in Astoria, Queens so we moved there.    I met my husband, Felice and opened our first restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens in 1971,and eventually a second, before opening my flagship restaurant, Felidia, in Manhattan, 1981.  I had both of my children during this time, and they grew up with me in the restaurants.  My parents were always there for me – helping to answer phones, fix chairs, take care of the children, and so much more.  Once my children became adults and finished their studies, they both returned to the family business to open more eateries, develop their passions and take on their own new projects.  My passion for food s   What made you decide to get into television and cooking shows? Has it helped you grow personally and professionally?    Julia Child came to Felidia, loved the risotto and asked me to join her for one of her Master Chefs episodes in the 1980s. Her producer asked me to consider doing my own Public Television series. In 1998, Lidia’s Italian Table premiered on Public Television.  Six years later, I formed Tavola Productions and have been producing 26 episodes of my series since then.    I love teaching, and the television platform has allowed me to reach an incredibly wide audience and share with them the simplicity of cooking at home.   To you, what is one misconception some people around the world have when it comes to Italian cuisine?  Italian cuisine is not only about spaghetti and meatballs and chicken pizzaiola. The traditional Italian cuisine is a regional cuisine of the 20 regions of Italy. It is a deliciously diversified cuisine focused on the seasons and the delicious regional products cooked using the simplest techniques.  As the Italian immigrants moved on in the world, they did not find the traditional products; the cuisine was modified and cooked with the products found, hence the Italian American Cuisine.   Throughout your career you have written books, made TV shows, and much more. What is next for you?  I will continue to produce 26 episodes of Lidia’s Kitchen over the next few years and work on documentary-style specials that focus on foods and traditions of different cultures.  I also look forward to traveling to new places again soon. In addition, I am working on a new book called One Pot Meals due out in 2021.   What place do nuts and dried fruits have in Italian and American cuisine?    Nuts and dried fruits play an important in Italian cuisine in both savory and sweet dishes and on their own.  Nuts are a great source of flavor and nutrients.  Along with dried fruits, they are a food source that can be dried and stored and used in cooking and baking all year round.  Pine nuts and almonds are a favorite to use in pestos.  I recall harvesting almonds, walnuts, and seasonal fruits and drying them in the sun before Grandma would collect them and safely store them in the cellar for later use.   Dried fruits and nuts are used in many holiday treats in Italy such as panettone and panforte.  Prunes and dried plums are used in Italian cooking in both savory and sweet dishes. I love to stuff a pork roast with prunes soaked in bourbon.  In the Italian traditions, raisins are used a lot in baking and desserts, but also in stuffings, marinades, and the braising of meat or fish. Nuts and dried fruits are used from appetizers to desserts in Italian cuisine.   Quick fire round What do you most love about cooking? The feel of dough, the beckoning aromas, and a table full of an anticipating family. What is your personal favorite dish?  Spaghetti with white clam sauce. What is the next big gastronomical trend in the world?  Back to basics, using a lot of vegetables, nuts and dried and fresh fruits. What nuts and dried fruits do you always have in your kitchen?  Almonds, pistachios, plums and raisins. Shadow and the Walnut Tree by Chef, Ximena SáenzWhen I was a child, there was a walnut tree in the country house where I spent my summers. It was stunning and it refreshed us under the midday sun. When it was filled with fruits, green furry balls fell from the tree. They said it was a walnut tree, but its fruit didn't look at all like a walnut. Scratching it was intriguing, to reveal that slightly meaty, sticky pulp under that fuzz and then discover the shell I knew and the nut inside.   They say walnuts have the shape of a brain or a butterfly. When Christmas season arrived, we got to crack the walnuts open with a special tool. In those days, shelled walnuts weren’t available. Or there were, but as they were more expensive my mom wasn't willing to pay as we could do it ourselves. The whole process of cracking them open and finding both halves separated by that sort of folding screen fascinated me. The shell was more alluring than the nut itself. It was a boat, a little house or a tortoiseshell.   A few years ago, at a food fair, I tasted a chocolate tart that was the most delicious I had tried in 37 years. Crunchy cocoa short-crust pastry, creamy chocolate filling. Bitterness, moderate sweetness, and a perfect combination of textures. I was surprised to find out it was a vegan tart. My mind collapsed because in my world coming from a French gastronomy school, you could only reach that kind of texture in the pastry when there was butter involved. I went to the back of the trailer where was selling the tart and cornered the baker. "Where is the butter?" I claimed as if I were asking, "Where did you hide the murderer?" But what they’d said was true butter wasn’t involved. The tart was made of an almond base, and that was enough.   Nuts have amazing properties. They can give you so much from just a handful. In all cultures, they play the lead in so many famous dishes: bakery from the Middle East, the pecan pie from North America, Asian dishes with peanuts and cashews, macaroons, granola, stolen, marzipan… the list goes on. But as the years continue, they’ll be even more prevalent in our lives. In the rising vegan and plant-based food trends they are a fundamental element as we have seen in recent year with vegetable drinks and nut “butters”.   I constantly ask myself if this "complex" moment we're currently going through around the world is related to the constant torture we inflict on our planet. An exhausting punishment to squeeze it until its last breath. In this context, I can hear all the voices that have been shouting for years about the urgency of rethinking ourselves in a completely new way. Among many other things, the need of rethinking how we feed ourselves. In that sense, the vegetable world comes strong, and its best warriors, seeds and grains, brim with energy. Seeds with enough energy to invigorate whole trees… Like that one that shared its shadow in our childhood. to Make the Perfect Buddha BowlFirst of all, what is a Buddha Bowl? A Buddha Bowl is a one-dish meal served in a bowl consisting in a balanced meal. Balance is a key concept for Buddhists so the name of “Buddha Bowl” may originate from here. For a balanced meal, we understand a meal that contains most of the nutrients that our body needs. So, this dish should contain micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), which we obtain from vegetables and fruits, plus the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein (animal or vegetable) and healthy fats such as those found in nuts. Nutrition properties of Buddha Bowls As we mentioned, a Buddha Bowl should contain all the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) that we need to eat every day. Carbohydrates and fats provide us with the energy that we need to keep up with the day while protein contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and muscle mass. Micronutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, that we obtain from vegetables and fruits, play a key role in maintaining our overall health with some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, selenium, zinc, iron and copper contributing to the normal function of the immune system. For that reason, a Buddha Bowl is a perfect dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner. What do you need to make a delicious Buddha Bowl?   Vegetables: Pick up a bunch of green leaves (mix of lettuces, kale, broccoli, spinach etc.) or the vegetables that you like most. Try to mix two or three different color veggies, not only will your Buddha Bowl will be more colorful but you’ll get an added variety of vitamins and minerals. Also, you can choose between raw or cooked veggies. Carbohydrates: whole wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, bulgur, potato, etc. Boil one portion of pasta, rice or the cereal that you prefer. For a breakfast bowl, you can add oats or sugar-free muesli. Protein: Add some animal protein (fish, lean meat or egg) or vegetable protein (tofu, tempeh, legumes, etc.). If you are preparing a breakfast bowl, you can add yogurt, milk or any vegetable drink, such as soya, rice, oat or nut drink. Fats: Add some healthy fats, such as nuts, avocado, olives, or olive oil as a dressing. Toppings: You can add whatever you like most. Some fruit, seeds or a mix of nuts and dried fruits. Dressing: from the classic one, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, to peanut sauce, tahini, yogurt and mint sauce, try a different one every day!   If you need some inspiration of what to put in your Buddha Bowl, visit our Buddha Bowls recipes. Don’t forget to share your creations with us on Instagram and tag us @nutfruithealth. News Round-Up - How to Strengthen Your Immune SystemHow to strengthen your immunity during the coronavirus pandemic There are no specific foods or supplements that will help protect against coronavirus. However, eating a nutritious diet, especially one consisting of foods containing nutrients (vitamins and minerals) such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, selenium, zinc, iron and copper, could help contribute to the normal function of the immune system.   Many foods, including nuts and dried fruits, can help you incorporate immune-boosting nutrients into your daily diet. This article, published on CNN Health, will provide you with a list of food sources that contain the above-mentioned vitamins and minerals as well as the role each one plays in immunity.   The article also gives a short break down of the best ways to cook vegetables to maximize their nutritional value. As it turns out, steaming is one of the best ways to cook all vegetables as it keeps the temperature and the amount of liquid to a minimum when cooking. Snack on nuts and seeds to boost your immunity “When it comes to healthy eating, snacking is usually the Achilles heel for most of us”, says this article published in The Telegraph (India). As discussed in one of our previous blogs on healthy snacking, snacking is still seen as an unhealthy practice involving over indulgent “treats” eaten between meals. However, as both we and The Telegraph mention this does not have to be the case with the article even discussing that healthy snacking could become an “integral part of your immunity-building habit”.   As the article discusses, nuts and seeds are a good snacking option as not only are they are easy to store and ready to eat but nuts and seeds are packed with essential vitamins and minerals that could help immunity. Almonds for example, are high in vitamin E while walnuts are high in vitamin B6, both known to help with the normal function of the immune system. However, as also conversed there are certain things to keep in mind when snacking on nuts and seeds.   6 foods proven to relieve stress and reduce anxiety During a time of adapting to the “new normal” there have been several mentions of increased stress and anxiety levels which, as the article discusses, may lead to feelings of increased or constant hunger said to be caused by longer term stress. This article published by Daily Sabah, informs us about foods that we can add in to our diets that have been proven to relieve stress and reduce anxiety and how “the key to coping with stress lies in supporting the immune system and lowering blood pressure, which can be achieved by following a healthy diet…”. Within the six tops foods are nuts and oilseeds as the article states “consuming a handful of pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts and almonds every day may help lower cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of diabetes as well as protect against the effects of stress.” Read the full article to discover which other foods could help to relieve stress and reduce anxiety.   Well that’s all for this month. Hope you have enjoyed the reading and we’ll be back with another Nutfruit News Round-up in August.   The information above is a review of news the INC has compiled from press media. This article is not intended to be exhaustive and it does not reflect the opinions of the INC. While the publishers believe that all information contained in this publication was correct at the time of publishing, they can accept no liability for any inaccuracies that may appear or loss suffered directly or indirectly by any reader as a result of any advertisement, editorial, photographs or other materials published in this news article. Reasons to Eat Nuts by Nutritionist and Dietitian, Carlos RiosWhen eaten as part of a healthy balanced diet, nut consumption does not promote weight gain (while eating the recommended portions) due to a number of factors[1]:   Their caloric content does not coincide with the usable caloric content/metabolizable energy. In other words, what we eat is not equal to what we absorb. In between, there are a series of events, such as digestion itself, that can be more complex when faced with these foods. Therefore, the calorie content of the labels can overestimate the real content that we end up taking advantage of. Due to their complex matrix where fiber, protein and fat are combined, they may help regulate appetite. These foods may slightly elevate thermogenesis (the process of heat production in organisms). They can also favorably modulate the gut microbiota through their high content in fiber, fatty acids and polyphenols. Last but not least, nuts act indirectly by removing the ultra-processed foods from your diet. A handful of nuts will always be better than eating an ultra-processed snack. So, What Are 5 Reasons to Consume or Continuing to Consume Nuts? Nuts are associated with better cardiovascular health due to their content in arginine, magnesium, selenium, polyphenols, and unsaturated fatty acid profile[2]. Nuts may help improve glycemic control, blood pressure and blood lipids (cholesterol levels), therefore they are recommended for diabetes, obesity or metabolic syndrome[2]. Nuts may help you maintain body weight through the mechanisms described above[1]. If your goal is to lose body fat and you have a well-planned diet to help you meet this goal, the inclusion of nuts does not hinder the process. In fact, it may even help you[3]. Nuts add a wide variety of flavors and textures to your dishes and to your diet. They are versatile and generally go really well with other ingredients / foods.  How to Include Nuts into Your Diet? In point 5 I mentioned that one of the main advantages of nuts was their versatility. See the table below to discover examples of how to combine nuts with other ingredients:   Nuts for Breakfast   Nuts in Meals Nuts as a Snack Nut Creams Nuts in Milkshakes or Porridge With dairy products (or dairy alternatives) and fruit As an ingredient in salads. They add a distinctive touch to the dish.   It’s normal to snack in between hours. If you do so, snacking on nuts is a great option.   Nut creams are trendy. However, we should prioritize the whole nuts (and raw, if possible).   With dairy products or dairy alternatives (milk, vegetable drinks or yogurt), oats and fruit.     What Counts as a Portion of Nuts? A serving of nuts can be established around 30 g / 1 oz (a handful) already peeled. It is important that you do not consume them directly from the bag to avoid overdoing it. Try rationing them previously by creating individual portions. To find out more about Carlos Rios check out his Instagram @carlosriosq.   [1] Tindall, A. M., Petersen, K. S., Lamendella, R., Shearer, G. C., Murray-Kolb, L. E., Proctor, D. N., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2018). Tree Nut Consumption and Adipose Tissue Mass: Mechanisms of Action. Current developments in nutrition, 2(11), nzy069. [2] Kim, Y., Keogh, J. B., & Clifton, P. M. (2019). Does nut consumption reduce mortality and/or risk of cardiometabolic disease? An updated review based on meta-analyses. In International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (Vol. 16, Issue 24). MDPI AG. [3] Akhlaghi, M., Ghobadi, S., Zare, M., & Foshati, S. (2020). Effect of nuts on energy intake, hunger, and fullness, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. In Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (Vol. 60, Issue 1, pp. 84–93). Taylor and Francis Inc. Snacking on Nuts and Dried Fruits May Benefit Your Health Healthy Snacking Tips As said, snacking does not have to be negative. The term snacking simply means something you eat in between your main meals but, when thinking about your daily snacks it’s important to consider a few things. Where will you be when those hunger pangs strike? If you’re at home, it’s likely you will have something healthy you can reach for to curb those cravings but, if you’re out and about it’s important to take something healthy with you so you’re not tempted to raid the office vending machine with an unhealthy option. It will depend on several factors, such as the physical activity you practice, so when thinking about your snacks think about what you’ll be doing that day and how to adapt your snacking habits to your daily routine. So, What Should You Snack On? In our previous article, we discussed the benefits of a plant-based diet, where vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy proteins, legumes and nuts  should take over a the main part of your diet. Snacks can be a great way to get those extra portions of the abovementioned food groups into your daily routine. A sliced carrot with a dollop of home-made hummus can be a healthy option. And, the best part, hummus can be made with a variety of nuts such as cashews, macadamias, walnuts and peanuts all containing unsaturated fats, considered as ‘good fats’ which have been showed to help lower bad cholesterol and therefore prevent against heart diseases[4]. When thinking about healthy snacks don’t forget to include nut butters too. Why Do Nuts and Dried Fruits Make for Such A Great Snack? Nuts and dried fruits make excellent snacks for many reasons. For one, they have a very interesting nutritional profile. They contain many nutrients including fiber, unsaturated fats, vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals which may help reduce overall hunger[2] which in turn may stop you reaching for unhealthy sugary snacks. Not only this but each different nuts and dried fruits may provide you with distinctive health benefits. For instance a study, which was published in 2018, showed that snacking on almonds may help decrease LDL ‘bad’ cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels in just eight weeks. Another project, also looked at the benefits of eating an afternoon snack of pistachios compared to that of biscuits and voilà, after a month, research observed that nutrient intakes such as vitamins B1 and B6, copper and potassium were significantly higher in the pistachio group. Now, there are some reasons to add them in to your snacking habits! As well as providing a delicious handful of essential nutrients, nuts and dried fruits can be enjoyed as a sweet or savory snack perfect for whatever your taste buds fancy.  Plus, however you fancy them, they are easy to take with you when you are on the go making sure you’ve always got a healthy snack to hand. If you’ve got any easy snack recipes with nuts and/or dried fruits share them with us over on our social media channels.   [1] Snacking on the rise during COVID-19 lockdown: [2] Hollingworth, S., Dalton, M., Blundell, J. E., & Finlayson, G. (2019). Evaluation of the Influence of Raw Almonds on Appetite Control: Satiation, Satiety, Hedonics and Consumer Perceptions. Nutrients, 11(9), 2030. [3] Fantino, M., Bichard, C., Mistretta, F., & Bellisle, F. (2020). Daily consumption of pistachios over 12 weeks improves dietary profile without increasing body weight in healthy women: A randomized controlled intervention. Appetite, 144, 104483. [4] Tindall, A. M., Kris-Etherton, P. M., & Petersen, K. S. (2020). Replacing Saturated Fats with Unsaturated Fats from Walnuts or Vegetable Oils Lowers Atherogenic Lipoprotein Classes Without Increasing Lipoprotein(a). The Journal of nutrition, nxz313. Advance online publication. doi:10.1093/jn/nxz313 Morning Routine During a Global Pandemic by Registered Dietitian, Nicole OsingaThis Global Pandemic has had widespread and devastating effects on many of us. During this time, it is extra important to look after our health and well-being, be that mental and physical. Stay tuned to learn about how my current morning routine helps to set me up for mental and physical success, and see how dried fruits and nuts are an essential part of this routine! Start with Coffee & Gratitude Journaling Yes there has been some interruption in my work schedule and yes I am stressed about the possibility of our October wedding being postponed. However, I have to remind myself everything that I am grateful for. It’s not easy to remember the things that I do have, which is why I have been adopting the habit of gratitude journaling in the morning each day. I am grateful for my health, that my family is safe, for shelter and access to good food.  I’m grateful to have a supportive partner and to be in a place of financial stability.   Sure, grieving the loss some work and wedding activities is to be expected, but it doesn’t have to overshadow the good in life. Next, Participate in Some Kind of Movement  I do have a (mostly) desk job, so my body needs a good dose of movement at the beginning of the day. In the morning is my favourite time to get the endorphins going, which keeps my mood boosted all day.   I usually mix my physical activity up between running and yoga. I am a competitive runner, but I won’t run every day as this would risk injury and neglect other types of exercise that are just as important. I depend on yoga to give me a good deep stretch along with some strength building. During my runs, I am usually listening to a podcast. My podcast picks range from travel-related to business-related to reality TV-related. It all depends on my mood! For those of you who can’t go outside to exercise at the moment, great exercise alternatives include YouTube Videos, and fitness classes displayed on other online platforms such as Instagram (everyone is doing Instagram Lives now!) Last (but not least!) Refuel With an Energizing and Filling Breakfast With Nuts and Dried Fruits  After my mental and physical exercise, I need to refuel and get myself nourished for the day. As much as I love oatmeal, a bowl of plain oats will not keep me full until lunch. Therefore, I always add nuts and dried fruit to my oats for power! This will better satiate me and help me face the challenges that the day throws at me. We’ve learned that this year is full of challenges so far! The nuts and seeds also add a number of nutrients that are important for immunity, including vitamin C, zinc and protein! To see more about Nicole Osinga check out her Instagram nicoleosinga_rd. to Reduce Bad Cholesterol? Macadamias May Help You!The Health Benefits of Macadamias LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol, because it contributes to atherosclerosis (accumulation of fat on arteries walls). Macadamias contain omega-7 fatty acids which are a type of monounsaturated fat, also known as healthy fat. Evidence showed that replacing saturated fats (non-healthy fats) with unsaturated fats may help lower bad cholesterol. So, due to the high content of monounsaturated fat [1,2], macadamias may help you reduce bad cholesterol [3].   Macadamia nuts are also valued for their subtle, buttery flavor, velvety-soft crunch texture and their oil profile. Due to their versatility, macadamias are used as snacks or as an ingredient in bakery and confectionery products. In addition, macadamia oil is used for cooking or in many cosmetic formulations.    Where Do Macadamias Come From? The macadamia tree is a member of the Proteaceae family and native to the subtropical, coastal rainforest of eastern Australia. According to the Australian Macadamia Society, the Aboriginal people called the macadamia with different names: Kindal Kindal, Boomera, Jindill or Baupal. In the 1850s, these trees were noticed by Ferdinand Von Meuller, a British botanist, and Walter Hill, the Director of the Botanical Gardens of Brisbane, Australia. The genus Macadamia was named after a prominent scientist of that time, Dr. John McAdam. The largest producers of macadamia nuts are South Africa Australia, and Kenya, representing about 75% of the world production. They are followed by China, USA, Guatemala,  Malawi, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia and others. Trivia About Macadamias Macadamia nuts have an exceptionally hard shell compared with the rest of the tree nuts, which provides a great protection of the kernel. Also, did you know that in Australia, macadamia nuts were considered a delicacy? They were used for trade between tribes and as special ceremonial gifts at inter-tribal gatherings.         [1] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. [2] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [3] Griel, A. E., Cao, Y., Bagshaw, D. D., Cifelli, A. M., Holub, B., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2008). A macadamia nut-rich diet reduces total and LDL-cholesterol in mildly hypercholesterolemic men and women. The Journal of nutrition, 138(4), 761-767. INC Talks With Saransh Goila, Founder of Goila Butter ChickenGlobally known for your restaurant Goila Butter Chicken and the said signature dish tell us, how did the idea for the restaurant first come about?   I happened to make this recipe accidentally. I wanted to create a dish that tasted like butter chicken but didn’t contain meat, for my vegetarian parents. When I moved to Mumbai and my friends here first ate the dish with chicken instead of paneer cheese, they loved it so much that they started a Twitter hashtag, #GoilaButterChicken. This then became my signature dish, which I started serving through my outlets and pop-ups, and was of course seen on the epic TV show, MasterChef Australia, hence the idea for the restaurant.   What can people expect when they come to your restaurant?   Apart from the signature butter chicken being served in different formats we do a bunch of dishes from different parts of India. There is a lot about Indian cuisine that we ourselves don’t know and we need to change that. Indian food is not only Mughlai or butter chicken, and the world needs to know that. It is a great time for our cuisine, and we all need to join the movement and Goila is a part of that journey.   How would you say you’ve reinvented the traditional Indian recipe of Butter Chicken for the modern-day palate?   It’s actually a home recipe. When I went to culinary school, I figured out a recipe where I would smoke this home gravy with coal and then serve it. So basically, it became more robust and smoky. That’s how I ended up infusing smoke into a traditional butter chicken gravy.   I also reduced the amount of fat and dairy that goes into the dish. We don’t use any sugar, added more kasuri methi, and tweaked the tomato to dairy ratio (80:20 as opposed to the usual 60:40), so that the flavors were more complex without the dish being overly rich and unhealthy. Goila Butter Chicken is lighter, home-style and guilt-free; something that a millennial would eat. The dish is more in sync with today. It’s not modern in its presentation but in its flavor profile.   Talking about different food inspiration and creation, in your opinion, what are the best qualities nuts and dried fruits bring to Indian cuisine?   Nuts and dried fruits form a significant part of Indian cooking and pantry. Not only do they add a bit of crunch and nutty flavor to our desserts and salads but they are also used to thicken gravies and sauces, and make for a great healthier replacement to cream or butter. For my parents it is a ritual to start their day with a handful of soaked mixed nuts and dried fruits. I tend to follow that tradition for the health benefits nuts and dried fruits bring with them and the feeling of fullness they give. As a former contestant on a reality food show, Food Food Maha Challenge –that you went on to win– how did it feel being on the other side as a guest judge on MasterChef Celebrity Australia?   It was a dream come true. Everybody was so supportive and positive there. All the contestants and judges are cheering and applauding you and saying great things about you and your country. What’s not to love about that? Right! You can't match that feeling because when you realize you’re not just there to just represent yourself but you’re also there to represent your country, it felt like I was being tested as well, not just the contestants. I felt the need to make sure I spoke well, cooked well, and that I looked okay! I needed to make sure I was representing my country in the best way possible.   Chef, author, columnist, food consultant… what’s next on the agenda?   Entrepreneur! I’m looking forward to creating a line of products and opening more restaurants. I’m also hoping to do more and more food content in the coming years!   And now for a quick-fire round!   What’s your first food memory? Making a Jalebi when I was 13 years old!   When did you first discover you love of cooking? When I started helping my grandpa in the kitchen every Sunday.   What do you think will be the next big food trend? Indian food will trend across the globe. Try out Saransh's delicious Gongura Chicken with Cranberry Almond Quinoa Prunes to Help Improve Your Digestive Health!The Health Benefits of Prunes Prunes are high in fiber and research showed that eating 100 g of prunes a day contributes to normal bowel function [1] and may also help overall digestive health. They’re also high potassium, vitamin A and vitamin K [2,3], which contribute to normal blood clotting and the maintenance of normal bones. In addition, prunes have been linked to the prevention and reversal of bone loss, especially in postmenopausal women [4]. Prunes, Dried Plums and Types After harvest, the freshly harvested plums are dried to become prunes or dried plums. Although all prunes are plums, not all plums are destined for prune production. In North America, the term prune refers to the varieties that can be, and normally are, dried without removing the pit. Most commercial plums fall into two main species: Prunus domestica (European) and Prunus salicina (Japanese) [5]. The European plums are the family line that produces the French cultivars of prunes, currently the consumer’s preferred choice of prunes throughout the world because they are naturally sweeter and more flavorsome. Currently, the USA, together with Chile, France and Argentina, are the main prune producing countries, representing 95% of total global production.   Discover the Origin of Prunes Plums have been cultivated since prehistoric times in temperate zones with numerous varieties and hybrids suitable for many soils and regions. Their cultivation originated in western Asia near the foothills of the Caucasus region and the shores of the Caspian Sea [6]. Prune trees were brought to France from Damascus by the Crusaders on their return from Jerusalem in the 12th century. They were brought to California after the Gold Rush thanks to Louis Pellier, a French vine grower.   [1] Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012.  [2] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. [3] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [4] Wallace, T. (2017). Dried plums, prunes and bone health: a comprehensive review. Nutrients, 9(4), 401. [5] Hui, Y. H. (2006). Handbook of fruits and fruit processing. John Wiley & Sons. [6] California Dried Plums Association. You Want Better Brain Health? Go Nuts!Age, Cognitive Decline and Nuts Over 50 million people worldwide suffer from dementia and the number is set to triple by 2050 [1]. Age is the biggest known risk factor for cognitive decline. Cognitive decline simply means that your brain doesn’t function as well as it used too. However, although there is no known treatment that can prevent or cure dementia, all is not lost as a recent study has observed an inverse association between nut consumption and the prevention of cognitive decline [2]. The findings identified that eating nuts regularly (at least once serving per week), may help boost brain function in older people. Why Eating Nuts May Help Nuts have an interesting nutritional composition which is essential for providing the health benefits they give us. Nuts contain plant-based protein, unsaturated fats (also good for your heart health), fiber, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds such as phytosterols and phenolic compounds. It is these compounds that act as antioxidants which may prevent cell damage and consequently aging. Nuts have a considerable antioxidant load and with research [3] showing that antioxidant-rich diet patterns could contribute to the prevention and treatment of early stages of dementia, adding them to your diet is plausible advice.   A Balanced Diet Could Also Be the Key As well as higher nut consumption, maintaining a balanced diet is also key for better cognitive function. A 2018 study, the Rotterdam study [4], showed that a better diet quality (healthy diet) that was based on vegetables, fruit, nuts, whole grains, dairy, fish and limited consumption of sugary drinks - proved to be associated with larger brain volume which basically means brain health. So, there you have it. By following healthy eating patterns and the inclusion of nuts into your diet, you may help protect yourself against brain diseases. Try the ideas below for some quick and easy ways to add nuts to your daily routine. Go nuts for nuts Add nuts into your breakfast bowl. Sprinkle them chopped up on top of yogurt. Replace croutons with nuts in salads or soups. Add a handful of nuts to your Buddha Bowls for an additional nutrition boost. Mix them into your stir-fries for an extra crunchy touch. Add nuts to bread or pancakes. Take them with you as a snack. You could make nut bars or nut balls or simply roast and spice them.   Remember the recommended daily allowance for nut intake is 28 g/1 oz, a small healthy handful.   *To see how the nut consumption and cognitive decline study was carried out watch the video above.   [1] World Health Organization. (2019). Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia: WHO guidelines. In Risk reduction of cognitive decline and dementia: WHO guidelines. [2] Rabassa, M., Zamora‐Ros, R., Palau‐Rodriguez, M., Tulipani, S., Miñarro, A., Bandinelli, S., Ferrucci, L., Cherubini, A., Andres‐Lacueva, C., Habitual Nut Exposure, Assessed by Dietary and Multiple Urinary Metabolomic Markers, and Cognitive Decline in Older Adults: The InCHIANTI Study. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2020, 64, 1900532. [3] Arias-Fernández, L., López García, E., Struijk, E. A., Rodríguez Artalejo, F., & Lana Pérez, A. (2019). Consumo de frutos secos y función cognitiva: una revisión sistemática [Nut consumption and cognitive function: a systematic review]. Nutricion hospitalaria, 36(5), 1179–1188. [4] Croll, P. H., Voortman, T., Ikram, M. A., Franco, O. H., Schoufour, J. D., Bos, D., & Vernooij, M. W. (2018). Better diet quality relates to larger brain tissue volumes: The Rotterdam Study. Neurology, 90(24), e2166–e2173. for Valentine's Day... Or Any Day Really!Nuts for Breakfast in Bed Who doesn’t like breakfast in bed once in a while? Even if it means getting up that little bit earlier, it’s great to take the time to relax before all the hustle and bustle of the day ahead -yourself and/or that special someone will definitely be grateful for it. If you’re looking for some quick ideas why not give this Yogurt Parfait with Walnuts a go? Not only is it delicious and ready in just five minutes, but adding nuts to your breakfast is a great way to help keep your energy level higher throughout the day. Nuts for Gifts Sometimes original handcrafted gifts are the best way forward. Why not have a go at painting your own mug with love or some hand-crafted flowers -you could even make it a healthy gift too by adding nuts and dried fruits! Whether it’s for a friend, partner, family member or that special person in your life, we’re sure you’ll enjoy making it just as much as they’ll enjoy receiving it. A Delicious Dinner As with breakfast, there’s something about the simplicity of a healthy home cooked dinner; no fuss, no bill at the end and the self-satisfaction of having made it yourself - even if you’re not a gourmet chef! Home cooking is also an activity that we can share with the ones we love, making it double the fun and half the work. So, go pick up some local ingredients and whip up a delicious feast in no time. And if you’re stuck for ideas, not to worry, we’ve got a few with nuts and dried fruits. A Movie Marathon Curling up on the sofa with a pile of your favorite films ready and raring to go, well let’s be honest, occasionally there’s no beating it! Grab a healthy snack (of nuts and dried fruits) and settle down with those nearest and dearest and finish off the day the relaxing way! Got any plans for Valentine’s Day? Share them with us over on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Your Blood Sugar Levels High? Eating Pistachios May Help! Pistachios and Their Role in Diabetes Pistachios have a glucose- and insulin-lowering effect, so they may help you lower blood sugar levels[2]. Various studies indicate that pistachios may help you to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Moreover, recent studies showed that eating pistachios may help women with gestational diabetes control their blood sugar levels[3]. Eating pistachios every day may also improve some cardiometabolic risk factors in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes[4].   The Power of Pistachios In addition, pistachios have a delicious flavor and a high nutritional value, being high in monounsaturated fat, fiber, thiamine, vitamin B6, and minerals like potassium and phosphorus[5,6]. They are also a source of protein, riboflavin, vitamins A, E and K, as well as other minerals iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium[3,4]. All of these nutrients are what your body needs every day. So, try to include a handful of pistachios in your breakfast bowl or in your morning snack to get power for the day ahead.   Facts & Figures Originating from West-Central Asia, the pistachio is one of the oldest edible nuts on earth. The earliest evidence of their existence was found at the archeological site Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, which is 780,000 years old[7]. The Queen of Sheba loved pistachios, which were considered the symbol of happiness. In Syria, pistachios have been collected since 10,000 B.C. The main producing countries are the USA, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Afghanistan. They are usually marketed in their in-shell form, roasted and salted, but they can also be purchased unshelled. Find out more about the power of pistachios in our article 6 Reasons to Include Pistachios in Your Life.   [1] [2] Kendall, C. W. C., Josse, A. R., Esfahani, A., & Jenkins, D. J. A. (2011). The impact of pistachio intake alone or in combination with high-carbohydrate foods on post-prandial glycemia. European journal of clinical nutrition, 65(6), 696. [3] Assaf-Balut C, García de la Torre N, Durán A, Fuentes M, Bordiú E, del Valle L, et al. (2017) A Mediterranean diet with additional extra virgin olive oil and pistachios reduces the incidence of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM): A randomized controlled trial: The St. Carlos GDM prevention study. PLoS ONE 12(10): e0185873. [4] Sauder, K. A., McCrea, C. E., Ulbrecht, J. S., Kris-Etherton, P. M., & West, S. G. (2015). Effects of pistachios on the lipid/lipoprotein profile, glycemic control, inflammation, and endothelial function in type 2 diabetes: A randomized trial. Metabolism, 64(11), 1521-1529. [5] U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. [6] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [7] Goren-Inbar, N., Feibel, C. S., Verosub, K. L., Melamed, Y., Kislev, M. E., Tchernov, E., & Saragusti, I. (2000). Pleistocene milestones on the out-of-Africa corridor at Gesher Benot Ya'aqov, Israel. Science, 289(5481), 944-947. the Health Benefits of Pine Nuts! Health Benefits of Pine Nuts Pine nuts are high in vitamin K, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and manganese[1,2], which contribute to the maintenance of normal bones[3]. Pine nuts are also high in polyunsaturated fat, vitamins B1, E, and minerals such as iron and copper[1,2]. In addition, they are a source of fiber, potassium, vitamins B2 and B3. Where Pine Nuts Come From The pine nut cone takes three years to mature[4] and there are approximately 29 species of Pinus produce seeds. The species Pinus pinea L. is found in the Mediterranean basin; the main producing countries being Turkey, Italy, Portugal and Spain. There are several species in the Far East, including Pinus koraiensis, P. sibirica, P. yunnanensis, and P. pumila, all of which are very different in origin, shape, size, color and taste. North Korea is the main producing country, followed by China, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Fun Facts About Pine Nuts Did you know that pine nuts have been enjoyed by the Greeks and Romans since time immemorial? The Roman legions used to carry pine kernels as provisions on long journeys. Also, thanks to their exquisite flavor pine nuts are used all over Europe as a culinary ingredient widely used in confectionery and the world-famous “pesto” sauce.     [1]U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. [2]Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods.  [3]Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012. [4]Ciesla, W. M., & M Putter, C. A. J. (1998). Non-wood forest products from conifers (No. FAO NWFP-12). FAO, Roma (Italy) European Forest Institute, Joensuu (Finland) Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC (EUA). Forest Service. for a Healthy New YearHave A Good Breakfast and Add Nuts and Dried Fruits We’re sure you’ve probably heard the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and sometimes sayings are worth listening to! Starting off the day with a nutrient-dense meal could help you to feel fuller for longer. Nuts are considered as nutrient-dense foods. Adding them to your breakfast or morning snack could be a great way to keep those hunger levels at bay and stop you reaching for those mid-morning unhealthy treats. If you need some inspiration, we’ve got a number of healthy breakfast recipes with nuts and dried fruits to make your mouth water. Meal Preparation and Healthy Snacks One that takes a bit of organization but that definitely pays off. If you know you’re not going to be at home during the day then plan and prepare food the night before. Preparing your meals generally means you’ll be using fresh unprocessed ingredients therefore aiding towards an overall healthier diet. And, for people who are always on the go try preparing some homemade snacks. Nuts and dried fruits can be great to take with you when you're out and about, not only are they tasty, but they are also easy to store. Set Realistic Goals At this time of year, it’s easy to get caught up in the sweep of New Year’s resolutions and set ourselves too many goals that can be impossible to achieve. Set realistic ones! If do more exercise is one of them, don’t give yourself an exhaustive schedule but add a little in to your day to day. Take the stairs or get off the bus a few stops earlier and then build them up little by little. And remember, to keep those energy levels up after physical activity eat a handful of nuts they contain a variety of vitamins and minerals. Nuts and Dried Fruits May Help You Feel Good Inside and Out Dull hair and skin after the holidays? Some nut oils may help. Although not for everyday use, due to their nutritional compounds applying certain nut oils, such as macadamia, could give your hair and skin the quick boost they need to get them looking at their best. Adding some nuts and dried fruits to your daily diet could also give a little extra help. Dried apricots are known for their high vitamin A content, which is essential for maintaining normal skin, and even eyesight. So, there you have it, our quick and easy tips for to help you on the way to a healthy year ahead. If you’ve got anymore let us know over on Instagram, we’d love to hear them. A Friend for Your Digestive HealthWhy Dates Are Good for Your Health Dates are high in fiber, which may help prevent constipation and improve your digestive health[2,3]. And not only that, dates are also high in potassium and a source of copper[4,5]. Of all dried fruits, dates contain the highest amount of folate, also known as vitamin B9.   Trivia About Dates The date tree is a desert tree so, as you would expect, the Middle East and North Africa are the major date producing regions in the world. Saudi Arabia leads the ranking of date production followed by Iran, UAE, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.) is one of the oldest fruit crops cultivated in the arid regions of the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and the Middle East. Although it is not known exactly where date palms originated, it was probably in what is now the country of Iraq. Did you also know that during Ramadan, the daily fast is broken by a light meal called iftar, usually consisting of dates and water[7]. How Dates Can Be Eaten   Unlike other fruits, dates can be consumed at every stage of maturity: the Kimri stage (the fruit is young, green and has a hard texture), the Khalal or Bisr stage (maximum size and weight, yellow, purplish-pink, red or yellow-scarlet color, and firm texture), the Rutab stage (soft texture, less astringent, sweeter and darker color), and the Tamer stage (highest sweetness and lowest astringency, dark brown color and soft texture)[8]. Besides, dates can also be the raw material for by-products such as date sugar and date paste.   References: [1] World Gastroenterology Organisation: [2] Souli, A., Sebai, H., Rtibi, K., Chehimi, L., Sakly, M., Amri, M., & El-Benna, J. (2014). Effects of dates pulp extract and palm sap (Phoenix dactylifera L.) on gastrointestinal transit activity in healthy rats. Journal of medicinal food, 17(7), 782-786. [3] Fathallah, N., Bouchard, D., & de Parades, V. (2017). Diet and lifestyle rules in chronic constipation in adults: From fantasy to reality…. Presse medicale (Paris, France: 1983), 46(1), 23-30. [4] USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release April, 2018. [5] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [6] Chao, C. T., & Krueger, R. R. (2007). The date palm (Phoenix dactylifera L.): overview of biology, uses, and cultivation. HortScience, 42(5), 1077-1082. [7] Sun Maid (2011). Raisins & Dried Fruits. Serving the Word Since 1912. [8] Hui, Y. H. (2006). Handbook of fruits and fruit processing. John Wiley & Sons. Pecans! Your Heart Will Thank You for ItWhy You Should Add Pecans to Your Diet Pecans are high in thiamin [2,3], also known as vitamin B1, which contributes to the normal function of the heart [4]. They are also high in fiber, minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese. Pecans are also high in monounsaturated fat, which may help you to reduce the risk factors of cardiometabolic disease, such as hyperlipidemia, dyslipidemia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, nephropathy, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, etc [5]. In addition, they are a source of vitamin B6, iron and potassium. Not only are pecans considered a healthy-heart food, but they are also one of the richest plant sources of total polyphenol antioxidants, known for their ability to combat cell damage. Interesting Facts About Pecans Also, did you know that pecans are native to the Mississippi river basin. Long before the arrival of Europeans to the New World, the pecan served to enrich the diet of the tribes in the central and southern regions of the United States. The United States and Mexico are by far the largest producers of pecans, accounting for 92% of world production, followed by South Africa and Australia. Pecans are marketed in shell or shelled and can be eaten raw or roasted. They are used as a snack, salad topping, in chicken and fish dishes, as well as in the baked goods, confectionary and dairy industry and in chocolate and ice cream. George Washington frequently carried pecans in his pockets and Thomas Jefferson dedicated part of his time to their cultivation [6]. Besides, Texas adopted the pecan tree as its state tree in 1919 [7]. [1] World Heart Federation: [2] USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release April, 2018. [3] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [4] Commission Regulation (EU) Nº432/2012 of 16 May 2012. [5] McKay, D. L., Eliasziw, M., Chen, C. Y., & Blumberg, J. B. (2018). A Pecan-Rich Diet Improves Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 10(3), 339. [6] Rosengarten Jr, F. (2004). The book of edible nuts. Courier Corporation. [7] National Pecan Shellers Association: Snack: Spiced Roasted CashewsTry This For a Quick Healthy Recipe Spice and roast your cashews and discover the exotic taste that garam masala, cumin, coriander and amchoor adds to them. Ingredients for 5 servings: 150 g raw cashews ½ tbsp. butter A pinch of black salt ½ tbsp. garam masala ½ tbsp. ground cumin ½ tbsp. ground coriander ½ tbsp. amchoor Preparation: Add the spices and salt to a bowl and mix them all well. Heat the butter in a pan and, once melted, add the cashews. It’s important to stir constantly until the cashews turn brown. Once browned, turn off the heat and add the spice mix. Mix it well to make sure all the cashews get tasty! Then, transfer the cashews to a plate lined with kitchen paper to allow them to cool completely. Don’t forget to store them in an airtight container! Discover More Health Benefits of Cashews Do you like cashews but worry about the calories? Well, they don't have as many as first believed. A scientific study, published in the journal Nutrients[1], has found that the energy content from cashews is less than previously thought! In fact, CASHEWS MAY HAVE FEWER CALORIES than those stated on food labels. In addition, researchers found that 42 grams per day of cashews did not increase levels of LDL cholesterol, otherwise known as bad cholesterol. Moreover, including cashews in your diet may help you. Do you want to know why? Because cashews are high in iron, which contributes to the normal function of the immune system. And not only that, they are good for our planet too: the cashew tree doesn’t need a lot of water, so they grow in poor, dry soil, making them perfect for reforestation programs. [1] Baer, D., & Novotny, J. (2019). Metabolizable Energy from Cashew Nuts is Less than that Predicted by Atwater Factors. Nutrients, 11(1), 33. talks to Michelin Star Chef, Lionel Rigolet Comme Chez Soi is a two Michelin Star family-run restaurant founded in the early 20th century by Georges Cuvelier. In the 1930s, the Maison moved to its present location, an Art Noveau house at Place Rouppe in Brussels, where it obtained its first Michelin star in 1953. In 1994, the elder daughter of the 4th generation, Laurence, marries Lionel Rigolet, who is also trained in famous restaurants in Belgium and abroad. Lionel completes his full training in the restaurant of his father-in-law, and later takes over the restaurant with his wife. Today, the restaurant is brilliantly run by the couple who love to turn every meal into a real gourmet experience. Comme Chez Soi is a family-run restaurant that started back in the early 20th century. Is the essence that brought Mr. Georges Cuvelier into the restaurant trade still strong? Yes, of course! And every generation has added something; Georges created Comme Chez Soi, Louis developed it and gave it a style. Pierre drove it to the summit of gastronomy, and Lionel offers today a subtle blend of innovation and know-how.   Your restaurant is located in the heart of Brussels and decorated in the Art Nouveau style. Do you feel that, for guests, the décor of a restaurant is as important as the quality of the dishes? It definitely has a big influence as it is the first experience you have of the restaurant. It reflects the style and the atmosphere of the Maison and gives you a hint at what you might expect in your dishes. For example, at Comme Chez Soi, you can perfectly see the mixture between tradition and innovation. What are the daily challenges that you face in haute cuisine? A restaurant is like a company, or even a small society where you have to face day-to-day challenges. What we also really pay attention to is, of course, the quality of the ingredients, the dishes, the service, etc. Our goal: that our clients experience something special, timeless, unique. Let’s talk about your cuisine. What does it mean that your dishes are made with “a touch of exoticism and creativity”? Where do you find inspiration to create? Exoticism comes from the fact that I mix a lot of spices myself to create my dishes. It’s a long process with inspiration mainly coming from traveling, it really opens my mind and boosts my creativity. In your opinion, what are the best qualities nuts and dried fruits can add to your cuisine? I would say crunch and originality. And what is the nut or dried fruit that is never missing in your kitchen? We have a wide range of nuts to be honest. They’re rarely missing. Among other accolades, Comme Chez Soi has received two prestigious Michelin Stars. What did that represent for you? Recognition for the hard work of all the Comme Chez Soi team. What can people expect when they come to Comme Chez Soi? Laurence and I are proud to highlight a cuisine rich in an almost 100-year-old tradition. At Comme Chez Soi, you can experience real and tasty cuisine surrounded by beautiful art nouveau décor in the heart of Brussels. It’s not only history that you will taste, but also modernity, and that is the real plus of our Maison, it is the subtle blend of innovation and know-how I talked about earlier. Try Lionel Rigolet's recipe: Sautéed Scallops, Broad Beans with Smoked Bacon, Espelette Pepper And Caramelized Hazelnuts Cranberries May Help Prevent Urinary Tract Infections!Thanks to their antioxidant content, eating dried cranberries may help prevent recurring urinary tract infections[2]. They’re also a source of fiber and vitamin E[3][4]. Health Benefits of Dried Cranberries A 2016 study investigated the role of the Vaccinium berry fruit (cranberries or dried cranberries) in modulating gut microbiota function and cardiometabolic risk factors. Cranberry bioactive compounds have been found to contribute to mechanisms affecting bacterial adhesion that may underlie potential clinical benefits on gastrointestinal and urinary tract infections, as well as on anti-inflammatory actions mediated via the gut microbiome[5].   Curiosities About Dried Cranberries The Cranberry is a perennial plant that produces low-growing and woody vines that can survive indefinitely[6]. They have a long history. In North-America, wild cranberries were first consumed by native populations and European settlers who adopted the Native American uses for the fruit[7]. Farmers began cultivating them in the early 19th century in the USA. There are two major species of cranberries: the American and the European. The American or large-fruited Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is indigenous to the North American continent and the most widely grown in commercial plantings[6][7]. Cranberry production is concentrated mainly in the USA, Canada and Chile. The majority of cultivated cranberries are processed into products such as sweetened dried cranberries or juice[6]. Popular ways to consume dried cranberries include trail mixes, in baked goods and in salads. In America, cranberries have a long history. Native Americans used them to treat arrow wounds and American sailors carried them on their voyages as a source of vitamin C. Due to the cranberry’s ability to float, they are harvested by flooding fields with water. This method, called wet harvesting, is the primary harvesting method[6]. [1] Flores-Mireles, A. L., Walker, J. N., Caparon, M., & Hultgren, S. J. (2015). Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nature reviews microbiology, 13(5), 269. [2] Burleigh, A. E., Benck, S. M., McAchran, S. E., Reed, J. D., Krueger, C. G., & Hopkins, W. J. (2013). Consumption of sweetened, dried cranberries may reduce urinary tract infection incidence in susceptible women–a modified observational study. Nutrition journal, 12(1), 139. [3] USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release April, 2018. [4] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [5] Blumberg, Jeffrey B., et al. "Impact of cranberries on gut microbiota and cardiometabolic health: Proceedings of the cranberry health research conference 2015." Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 7.4 (2016): 759S-770S. [6] Neto, C.C and Vinson, J.A. 2011. Cranberry. In Benzie, I.F.F. and Wachter-Galor, S.Eds., Herbal Medicine - Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, pp 107-128. Boca Raton Fl, USA. Taylor and Francis Group, LLC. [7] McCown, B.H. and Zedin, E. L. 2005. Vaccinium spp. Cranberry. In Litz, R.E. Ed. Biotechnology of Fruit and Nut Crops (Biotechnology in Agriculture Series, Nº 29), pp 247-261. Cambridge MA, USA. Nuts and Join the Nutfruit Power Challenge! This September, the INC has launched Nutfruit Power, the new dissemination campaign that promotes the consumption of nuts and dried fruits in the morning to start your day with power. Nowadays, energy is turning into a key element within a contemporary health and wellness lifestyle. As consumers, we are starting to get tired of the concept of weight management and miraculous diets and we want to achieve a more holistic approach to a healthy diet. We all want to remain energetic for as long as we can. How can you do that? Join #NutfruitPowerChallenge, eat nuts and dried fruits in the morning and remain energetic for as long as you can! Get Involved! Be an ambassador of the Nutfruit Power and share some of your daily challenges. Jump out of bed, walk the dog, go for your morning run or add nuts and dried fruits to your breakfast. Post a photo of it or record yourself on your morning challenge and upload it onto your social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Remember to use the hashtag #NutfruitPowerChallenge. Want more ideas? Watch and share the Nutfruit Power video campaign. So, ready for today? Now it’s the time to choose your challenge and go nuts! To see more information about the campaign please visit the campaign's webpage. to Prevent Strokes? Then… Eat Walnuts! Walnuts! Did you know that eating 30 g of walnuts every day contributes to the improvement of the elasticity of blood vessels1?   Health Benefits of Walnuts Walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fat, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and manganese1,2. Thanks to their nutritional composition, they also may help to reduce the risk of heart disease. Walnuts have been studied due to their potential effect on the reduction of the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Regular walnut consumption has been associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and has been shown to decrease LDL “bad” cholesterol and blood pressure, two major risk factors for CVD. In addition, walnuts may improve endothelial function, decrease both oxidative stress and some markers of inflammation3,4. The production of walnuts is spread across many countries, with main producers being the USA, China, Ukraine, Iran, Chile and Turkey. They are sold in both shelled and in-shell form and are often used as a snack, salad topping, and as an ingredient in desserts, baking and confectionery, as well as main courses. Interesting Facts About Walnuts Did you know that walnut trees are one of the oldest fruit trees known to man, dating back to 7,000 B.C. In Rome, walnuts were considered the food of gods and received the name of Juglans regia, in honour of Jupiter. There are several species of walnuts but the most common and commercially important one is Juglans regia, also known as the Persian or English walnut. The Greeks called them karyon, which means head, because they thought walnuts looked like a human brain. For this same reason, the Chinese have believed for centuries that walnuts are good for the brain5. For ancient Greeks and Romans the walnut was a symbol of fertility. The nuts were commonly distributed in wedding ceremonies as good luck wishes1. In California, the walnut was first cultivated by the Franciscan Friars in the late 18th century2. [1] Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012. [2] USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release April, 2018. [3] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [4] Wu L, Piotrowski K, Rau T, Waldmann E, Broedl UC, Demmelmair H, Koletzko B, Stark RG, Nagel JM, Mantzoros CS, Parhofer KG. Walnut-enriched diet reduces fasting non-HDL-cholesterol and apolipoprotein B in healthy Caucasian subjects: a randomized controlled cross-over clinical trial. Metabolism. 2014 Mar;63(3):382-91. [5] Kris-Etherton PM. Walnuts decrease risk of cardiovascular disease: a summary of efficacy and biologic mechanisms. J Nutr. 2014 Apr;144(4 Suppl):547S-554S. [6] Keown, D. (2014). The Spark in the Machine: How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine. Singing Dragon. Nutfruit Tips: Learn How to Rehydrate Dried FruitIngredients for 4 servings 6 dried figs 6 dried apricots 1 handful of raisins 6 prunes 1 handful of dried cranberries 6 dates Preparation Remove all the stems from the fruits. Add each fruit to a separate bowl and add enough water to cover them. Leave them to soak for as much time as it takes for them to soften and rehydrate. The time will depend on each fruit (about 1 hour for the small fruits and 2 hours for the larger fruits), so don’t forget to keep an eye on every bowl! When they’re ready, drain and transfer the fruits to some kitchen paper and dry them well. They are now ready to be added to any dish you choose! Tired and Fatigued? Eat Peanuts, They May Help You!Peanuts are high in Vitamin B3, B6, pantothenic acid and magnesium[1][2], which as part of your diet, contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue[3], making you feel yourself again and giving you more energy. Facts and Figures Did you know that peanuts grow in tropical and subtropical climates? Also, peanuts are cultivated in over one hundred countries across all five continents[4]. They are widely cultivated for their high-quality edible oil as well as for their use for human consumption and fodder. Nowadays, the major producing countries of peanuts are China, India, Nigeria, United States, Indonesia and Argentina. Peanuts, also known as groundnuts, are an annual leguminous herb native to South America. From there, they are thought to have been brought to Africa by missionaries and pioneers, and from Africa to America by slave traders[5]. Curiosities  Contrary to what many people believe, peanuts are not a tree nut but a legume. Peanuts contain properties of both beans/lentils and tree nuts[6]. And, did you know that Alan Shepard, commander of Apollo 14, took one peanut with him to the moon in 1971[7]?   [1] USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release April, 2018. [2] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [3] Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012. [4] Mohan, M., & Nigam, S. N. (2013). Principles and practices for groundnut seed production in India. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Patancheru, Andhra Pradesh (India). [5] Klijn J. W. 2012. Nuts and dried fruit. 3rd Edition. pp. 60-67. ISBN 978-90-78206-70-5. [6]   American Peanut Council. [7] Nelson V.J. (2008). Obituaries: Jay Fiondella. Chez Jay's flamboyant owner turned it into a haven for stars. Los Angeles Time. Nov 13. to Fight Against Aging? Brazil Nuts May HelpThe Brazil nut is the most economically important plant product that is harvested sustainably in the Amazonian rain forest. Close to 70% of the world’s supply comes from the Pando region, an area that represents just 3% of the Amazon forest. Also, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil are the main producing countries of Brazil nuts.   Bites of Health Brazil nuts are high in selenium and vitamin E[1][2], which contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress[3]. Cell oxidation is a factor which causes many diseases related to aging and it can affect everybody, so it’s important to protect yourself. In fact, Brazil nuts have got more selenium than any other food on the planet! Just one Brazil nut contains around 96 micrograms of selenium and the recommended daily amount is 55 micrograms per day[4].   Facts and Figures One of the most curious things about Brazil nuts is that the Brazil nut tree is one of the tallest of the Amazon Basin’s tropical rainforest, reaching up to 50 m in height[5][6]. The fruit of the Brazil nut tree is a large round capsule (10-12 cm in diameter) with a hard-wooden wall containing 10-25 seeds (commonly known as Brazil nuts) and weighing 0.5-2.5 kg[7].   [1] USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release April, 2018. [2] Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. [3] Commission Regulation (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012. [4] National Institutes of Health (NIH): [5] Thomson, C. D., Chisholm, A., McLachlan, S. K., & Campbell, J. M. (2008). Brazil nuts: an effective way to improve selenium status. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 87(2), 379-384. [6] Martin, R. M., & Killmann, W. (2005). Microfinance and forest-based small-scale enterprises. FAO Forestry Paper, 146. [7] Clay, J. W., & Clement, C. R. (1993). Selected species and strategies to enhance income generation from Amazonian forests. Rome: Food and agriculture organization of the United Nations. Talks to Andrew Roenbeck, Executive Chef at Boca Raton Resort & Club, FloridaYou were recognized with the INC Award for Excellence in Gastronomy during our Congress. Would you ever have imagined receiving such an accolade from the nut and dried fruit industry? I did not anticipate that at all. When I got the news, I started to read a little bit of history of the INC and I was immediately excited about the honor. Once you knew that Boca Raton Resort & Club would hold the INC World Congress, attracting the whole nut and dried fruit industry, what thoughts came to your mind? The first thing that a chef needs do before a challenge like this is understand that we would have so many countries represented here. Once you truly start to comprehend the magnitude of an event like this is when different levels of energy and excitement come to you. Is it a challenge to have so many people from around the world here? It is, but with experience and having travelled around the world, you come to understand that  there is a common denominator among all countries and cultures: food. So, food is a type of language? It is more than a language. We don’t have to have the same vocabulary, religion or culture but at the end of the day, when we sit down at the table, we are all the same. Food is the common denominator that brings everyone together. You break bread together; you are friends forever.     What are the main differences between being chef in a restaurant compared to a resort? There should be no difference. Here at the resort we have 13 different restaurants and each one of those has a different theme. When you look at food as a whole, and not necessarily as a separate entity, you are able to take the strong points from restaurants and then apply them to a large event for six or seven hundred people. And vice versa, how do you take something that we have done at large events, make it special and put it into one of the restaurants? If you can balance both of those by having creativity, talent and understanding the depth behind it, you can execute both of those simultaneously at the same level of quality. That’s the key. In your opinion, what are the best qualities nuts and dried fruits can add to your cuisine? This was probably one of the main reasons that I got excited when I found out we were hosting this event. To a chef, deep down and above so many different components of food, there is always going to be that extra depth and extra touch. That’s what adds what we call the extra love to everything we do, and nuts and dried fruits are one of the major components that allows us to add that to our cuisine. And what is the nut or dried fruit that is never missing in your kitchen? That’s not fair! It’s like asking who is your favorite child. But personally, I’m a cashew lover... and pistachios come close. a Great Start to the Day with Nuts and Dried Fruits!According to a study held by Mintel, in a matter of four years, the growth of foods with energy-boosting properties will position as a prime in market size. It is also estimated that plant-based proteins, following a high demand of natural ingredients, will position in the top five trends. And it’s within this context, most people revealed that they eat nuts and dried fruits as a snack in the afternoon to replenish their energy levels, but according to an also recent study by Mintel, morning consumption is very low compared to the afternoon -only 20%.   Switch On your Nutfruit Power with Nuts and Dried Fruits! Wake up early, take your kids to school, go to work, gym, yoga, go shopping, make dinner, do homework. Exhausting right? Every day is full of challenges and it’s better to feel powerful to face them. So, eat some nuts and dried fruits at breakfast time or as a morning snack and face your day with power and energy! from Raisins May Help You Maintain A Normal Blood Pressure As the home of the Sultanina variety, Turkey is the leading supplier of Sultana raisins. Other major dried grape producing countries include USA, Iran, China and India. The most common dried grape varieties are Sultanina (synonyms Sultana, Thompson Seedless) and Currants (Black Corinth and Zante currant).   Bites of Health Raisins are high in potassium, which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood pressure(2). Scientific studies have also seen an association between eating raisins and lower blood pressure. Not only that, raisins are a low-to-moderate-glycemic-index food (an indication of their effect on blood sugar level), which may help in the prevention of type 2 diabetes(3).  Facts and Figures The origin of the word raisin is the Latin ‘racemes’, which means a “cluster of grapes or berries "(4). cultivated by the anatolian and Egyptians since ancient times, grapes were prized for their sweetness and wine production. Legend has it that Noah became the first viticulturist after seeing a male goat becoming cheerful after eating grapes. [1] Resolution OIV-VITI 522-2016. OIV Good Practises for Dried Grape Production Systems: [2] Anderson JW et al. Raisins compared with other snack effects on glycemia and blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial. Postgrad Med. 2014 Jan;126(1):37-43. [3] Anderson JW et al. Raisin consumption by humans: effects on glycemia and insulinemia and cardiovascular risk factors. J Food Sci. 2013 Jun;78 Suppl 1:A11-7. [4] California Raisins Advertising History & Fun Facts. from Food Allergies? Here Is Your Must-Have GuideRecent data show that the number of people that suffers food allergy or food intolerance to some products is increasing. Approximately 15 million people in the United States have food allergies. The Food Allergy Research & Resource Program currently estimates the prevalence of food allergies (IgE-mediated) in the USA at 3.5 - 4.0% of the overall population. In children, it increased by 50% between 1997 and 2011. As for nuts, it is estimated that the prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in US children more than tripled between 1997 and 2008. With this in mind, the INC has created an Allergens Toolkit with practical information and tips providing an introduction to nut allergy facts, labeling rules and key aspects of allergen management. You may download and print the Toolkit here. History of HazelnutsThe main producing countries of hazelnuts are Turkey, Italy, Azerbaijan, Georgia, USA, Chile and Iran. Turkey, the largest producer, accounts for around 63% of total global production (2018/2019 season). Hazelnuts' nutritional value and exquisite flavor make hazelnuts unique and an ideal ingredient in a wide range of foods. They combine particularly well with chocolate. Hazelnuts come in a huge variety of ways and bring an unmistakable flavor and texture to chocolate, cakes, pastries, bread, dairy, cereals, salads, main courses, sauces and desserts. Bites of Health Hazelnuts are high in monounsaturated fat, which may help lower bad cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. Also, they are high in fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin E and minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. They are also a source of pantothenic acid, zinc and vitamin K.  Facts and Figures Herodotus' The Histories (490-425 BC) mentions the cultivation of hazelnuts in the eastern Black Sea Coast region and describes pressing techniques for their valuable oil. The Ancient Greek philosopher Theophrastus (372-287 BC) describes the botanic features and cultivation principles of hazelnuts in his works. Also, the hazelnut tree was considered a symbol of fecundity and fertility in Eurasian, Germanic and Northern European cultures. Hazelnuts were often featured in wedding traditions in Germany and Russia. Figs: Fascinating Facts you Never Knew About ThemThe fruit is usually consumed fresh or in a preserved form, such as dried or as a paste. Turkey is the major producer of dried figs, followed by Iran, USA, Greece, Spain and Italy. Bites of Health Dried figs are high in potassium, which may contribute to normal muscle function. Not only that, dried figs are high in fiber and a source of vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese. Of all dried fruits, they contain the highest amount of fiber (9,8 g/100 g) and magnesium (68 mg/100 g). And they’re also remarkable for their phenolic content, a type of antioxidant. Facts and Figures The fig tree was a sacred, mystic tree in ancient Greek and in Roman civilizations, as well as a symbol of fertility. Figs were a staple food of the Greeks and the Spartans. The Greek athletes were fed almost entirely on figs, as it was believed that they increased their strength and swiftness. In monotheist religions, the fig is a sacred fruit. It is mentioned in holy books and served at religious festivities. Another fact about figs is that they have numerous edible seeds inside that are generally hollow, unless pollinated. Pollinated seeds are the ones that give the dried figs their characteristic nutty taste. Potential Contribution of Traditional Dried Fruits to Public HealthThe discussion was focused on key consumer messages for the dried fruit and wider food industry and how consumer confusion can be avoided. Standard messaging advising consumers to read the ingredients list and the nutrition information is likely to be the most helpful way to ensure consumers can understand and distinguish different categories of dried fruits. How dried fruits are positioned and marketed in the food environment in order to provide consumer choice may also be influential, for example, as a composite food ingredient, as a meal ingredient or as a snack.   The INC has funded the Open Access publication of this article.   Sadler, M. J., Gibson, S., Whelan, K., Ha, M. A., Lovegrove, J., & Higgs, J. (2019). Dried fruit and public health–what does the evidence tell us?. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 1-13. for a Healthier World’s Campaign from INC Raises €47,800 to Fight Against Child MalnutritionLast year, the INC created a video campaign to raise awareness of the Project, and at the beginning of 2019, Save the Children joined forces and  turned all video shares into physical aid. The INC also asked members to join the project by donating, and further empowering the campaign. The main video has been shared over 43,000 times, with other content totalling over 1.1 million views. While the campaign visibility through all media and platforms has reached more than 43 million people. Since the partnership with Save the Children boosted the fundraiser, companies such as Starline Global Trade Inc., Bösch Boden Spies GMBH and Co. KG, Noberasco SPA, Tomra Sorting Solutions, Campos Brothers Farms, John B. Sanfilippo and Son, Inc., MWT Foods, QiaQia Food Co. Ltd., Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Inc., ShoEi Foods Corporation, Samsons Traders and CWS Ingredients, have become the cause’s most prominent flag-bearers. Goretti Guasch, INC Executive Director, has expressed: “I am delighted to see the nut and dried fruit industry come together again to support such an important cause.” As for Save the Children’s Director of International Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, David del Campo, “Nuts have much to offer in most situations of malnutrition and this campaign has helped us to ensure that pregnant women and young children have access to an accurate treatment.” The INC thanks the INC members, the INC community and above all, Save the Children for joining the campaign. More About CashewsNowadays, the main producing countries of cashews are India, Cote d'Ivoire and Vietnam. East and West Africa export almost all of their cashew nuts to India, Vietnam and Brazil to be shelled and processed there. The cashew tree does not require extensive irrigation or water-usage; it is environmentally friendly as the trees can grow in poor soils and dry climatic conditions. It is widely used in afforestation programs as it requires almost no maintenance. Cashews and Health Cashews are high in vitamin K and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and copper. They are also a source of fiber, thiamin, pantothenic acid and minerals as potassium and selenium. Besides that, cashews contain the highest amount of iron (6 mg/100 g) of all nuts and also, they're high in vitamin K which contributes to normal blood clotting and to healthy bones. Facts and Figures The cashew nut hangs outside and under a fleshy, edible, false fruit called the cashew apple, also known as the Marañón in Central America. Once ripened, the cashew apple (which can be apple or pear shaped) can be yellow, red, orange or pink. The apple can be eaten fresh or made into juice, and can be distilled to produce alcoholic drinks.   The cashew shell contains an inedible phenolic oil, known as cashew nut shell liquid (CNSL), which has many industrial uses. CNSL is useful for insecticidal, fungicidal, anti-termite and medicinal applications, as an additive in many plastic formulations, as well as in the manufacture of resins employed in the fields of friction materials, automobiles, surface coatings, adhesives, laminates and rubber compounding, among other applications. A 2013 study also found that cashew shells, after extracting the CNSL, were superior to a number of liquid fuels, such as ethanol and methanol, as well as firewood, in terms of energy content. Talks to Leonor Espinosa, Head Chef at Leo Restaurant in Bogotá, ColombiaLeonor Espinosa is a plastic artist and economist. She currently runs the kitchens in her restaurants: LEO and MISIA. For the last six years, Leonor has made the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, which also named her Latin America’s Best Female Chef in 2017. Another of her accolades that year was the Basque Culinary World Prize 2017. Both nationally and internationally, she is currently the world’s most widely recognized Colombian chef. With her daughter, Laura Hernández Espinosa, she leads the FUNLEO foundation in order to carry out work in the community. Among a host of other honors, you have been recognized with the Best Restaurant in Colombia 2018 for LEO and the 10th Best LATAM restaurant 2018, you feature on TIME MAGAZINE’S list of The World’s 100 Greatest Places 2018 and you have reached the 10th place in the highest-ranking Colombian restaurant. Does that bring more pressure or does it encourage you to continue to improve? It’s such an honor because somehow it reminds me of the hard work and effort that I’ve put in throughout my career. Luckily, I don’t allow all these accolades to generate more pressure because I know that it would affect my loyalty and my convictions. The best part of it is that the honors confirm me that I’m on the right path. Am I right in saying that your core values are tradition, culture and creativity? Yes, you’re right. And I’d add ‘consequence’ to that list. I truly think that all the steps you take are the consequence of something.    Are you a chef, an artist or an economist? I am the sum of all these things. I cook, I create art and I do economics, in that order. And also I’m a chef because I lead the cuisine of my two restaurants. For me, the cuisine is an act composed of a set of facts related to knowledge, historical memories and personal experiences. My aim is to bring knowledge to communities in order to create relationships between their territories and the biological species that grow there. The geographical immersion, cosmos’ knowledge, ancestralism, innovations, legitimacy and paradigms; they’re all necessary attributions to take into account so that the culinary process can become an art. I’ve read that you say every single person must have their own distinctive trait. What’s yours? I express myself more as an artist than a chef. I’m not faithful to external conditions. I like to break down preconceptions in everything I do. I do it through my cooking and through my relationship with my staff. Everything I do is by choice and by my personal freedom. What defines Colombian cuisine? Colombian cuisine, as in other countries in our region, is defined by the multi- and interculturality generated by all the different cultures that have influenced it, as well as local migration. The country’s heritage includes indigenous Amerindian communities, Spaniards from the conquest and Africans who were brought in as slaves by the Europeans. All these influences have left their mark on the culinary traditions. It’s a very colorful cuisine. But as everything is moving, nowadays we are not only projecting that ancestralism, but also our magnificent biological diversity. All those promising species can be adapted and incorporated into modern food. Without doubt, Colombia will, among other things, be renowned for its haute cuisine. What defines your cuisine? My cuisine is defined by a characteristic stamp: I’ve put all my efforts into developing my personal style through a contemporary-artistic point of view. …rooted in the traditions and the diversity of your homeland? Travelling around Colombia, I realized the true gastronomy of my country. There’s such a rich culture of cooking but many Colombians don’t connect with it. Too many communities have become isolated and have lost their pride in the food they cook, and I want to help change that. I try to give space and visibility to promising species that grow and are associated with unknown territories, reflecting their richness, like seed of the macambo, cacay and coquindo, as well as different type of nuts and dried fruits that I find along the way. I really think that Colombia can show the world a way of integrating many cultural traditions into its cuisine. That is why in my kitchen, I’m not keen on holding on to anything. The menu in LEO is called CICLO-BIOME. What is it about? The CICLO-BIOMA proposal is based on the periodic study of the different Colombian biomes and ecosystems. I work with biologists, ethnobotanists and dendrologists to discover promising species that can be incorporated into dishes and condiments, trying always to conserve nature and the essence of the product, as well as discovering the life of man in that territories, their knowledge, their uses and customs. Then, working with my foundation, I use the findings to help improve conditions for the ethnic communities who live around such products. It’s without a doubt one of the most passionate projects I’ve ever created. LEO’s cuisine is local products and ancestral knowledge. What is this magic ancestral knowledge? This knowledge is necessary in the creative process to talk about new narratives in Colombian cuisine. I’ve been told that in all your projects you are not alone and you have your daughter Laura with you. Is she learning from you or are you learning from her? We both learn from the same position as partners, friends and family. It’s such a privilege to do it. Laura is one of Colombia’s top sommeliers and it’s an honor that she demonstrates her talent and knowledge at LEO’s.   What does the future hold for you, if that’s something you’ve thought about? I’m a person that lives day-by-day. I always say you have to focus on what you have today because it’s the only way you can truly be faithful to your beliefs.’s Learn More About… Dried Apricots Apricots spread from Central Asia to Europe and later the Spaniards and the English took it to America. Nowadays, Turkey is the leading producing country of dried apricots and other main producers currently are Iran, Uzbekistan, China and Afghanistan.   Why are Dried Apricots Good for Your Health? Dried apricots are high in fiber, potassium, copper, vitamin E (α-tocopherol) and, of all dried fruits, they contain the highest amount of vitamin A (3604 IU/100 g). They are a source of iron and niacin and the content of β-carotene in dried apricots is 2163 mcg in 100 g. Dried apricots contain the highest amount of the pigment, which is part of provitamin A carotenoids. Facts and Figures Malatya, the major apricot-producing city in Turkey, is known as the “World Capital of Dried Apricots”. The inhabitants of Hunza (Pakistan) enjoy remarkable health and longevity, attributed in part to their famous small dried apricots. May Have 16% Less Calories Than Previously ThoughtCalorie Content in Cashews Carried out by the USDA with the support of the Global Cashew Council and the INC and published in the journal Nutrients, the study brings off a human intervention trail with eighteen healthy volunteers. 9 males and 9 females were recruited to participate in a 9-week feeding test divided in two periods. In the first, participants consumed a controlled base diet supplemented with 42 g/day of cashews for 4 weeks and in the second, a controlled base died with no cashews during 4 more weeks.   After analyzing protein, fat and energy from their diet samples (feces and urine) by the ending of each period, the results showed that the calorie content of cashews is 16% lower than what is now stated on current food labels and nutritional databases.   Cashews and Cholesterol On the other hand, another recent study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that 42 g/day of cashews may not increase “bad” cholesterol levels. The study also observed that adding 42 g of cashews every day to a typical Western diet may help reduce the enzyme PCSK9, and lower PCSK9 concentrations are associated with the removal of LDL “bad” cholesterol from the blood.   In sum, whereas the current reported that the energy value of cashews is 163 kilocalories (kcal) per serving (28 g – 1 oz), USDA researchers found that the calorie content of a portion is 137 kcal, 16% less. Nuts For A Healthier WorldThe INC and the global NGO Save The Children’s project kicked off this January and now, nearing its close, the campaign has reached €43,800, beating the original goal of €40,000. Bösch Boden Spies, Noberasco, Starline Global Trade, Tomra, Campos Brothers Farms, John B. Sanfilippo and Son, Inc., MWT Foods, QiaQia, Setton Farms, ShoEi, CWS Ingredients and Samsons Traders all took part in the campaign to help the INC reach its target.   Members who made a donation of €6,000 received the “Nuts for a Healthier World Authentication" stamp to build into their communications materials and packaging, and their logo displayed at the INC booth in Gulfood and in all INC publications. Members who donated €3,000 also received the latter. If you would like more information about the campaign, please don´t hesitate to contact us at or visit the campaign's website. Thank you for your support. Joining forces we can make a real difference. Almonds May Help Keep Your Heart Healthy The Greeks were the ones who spread almond trees throughout this territory and later, the Romans introduced almonds throughout their Empire. Nowadays, the main producing countries are the USA, Australia, Spain, Iran, Tunisia, Turkey and Chile. Why Almonds are Good for Your Health? The consumption of almonds as part of a healthy diet may help in the maintenance of healthy blood lipid levels and to reduce the risk of heart disease. Almonds are high in fiber, vitamin E (α-tocopherol), riboflavin and minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese. Also, they represent a source of protein, thiamin, niacin and iron. Facts and Figures In the mid-18th century, the Franciscan Friars brought the almond tree from Spain to California and they planted almond trees along El Camino Real (The Royal Road) from San Diego to Sonoma. In India, almonds are prescribed as a brain tonic in Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine with historical roots in the Indian subcontinent. Also, bees are essential for almond growers to pollinate the trees and ensure the success of the harvest. In California, every spring, hives from beekeepers are rented to bring honeybees to the almond orchards. Kick-Off to the Nuts For A Healthier World Campaign Has Already Reached €6,000The INC and the global NGO Save The Children’s project kicked off this January and, in a matter days, the campaign is on its way to reach the target. At this moment the campaigns donations stand at €6,000. To further empower the project, the INC is reaching out to its members to donate to the cause to get to the €40,000 target. Campos Brothers Farms and John B. Sanfilippo and Son, Inc. have already made their donation. Those members who would like to join the cause and take part of the action can collaborate until the end of January 2019 via the campaign’s donation site.   With the donation option of €6,000, members will also have their logo displayed at the INC booth in Gulfood and in all INC publications. As well, they will also receive the Nuts For a Healthier World Authentication Stamp to incorporate on their packaging. If you would like more information about the campaign or have any queries about other type of donations, please don´t hesitate to contact us at or visit the campaign's website. Thank you for your support. Joining forces we can make a real difference. INC and Save The Children Join Forces to Empower the Nuts For A Healthier World ProjectOver the last few months, the INC has been asking people all over the world to share the #NutsForAHealthierWorld video to raise awareness of the cause. So far, the publication has reached over 40,000 shares and now, Save The Children will turn those shares into physical aid. Both partners established that every share of the video would be equal to one euro, which is the cost of a nutritional treatment of one child for one day. In this regard, the aim of the cooperation is to raise the same amount of money as shares and so, having now reached 40,000 shares, that would mean €40,000 of nutritional treatment that the NGO could send 40,000 days' worth of treatment to children in Mauritania, South Sudan and Bangladesh. Besides the cooperation with the global NGO, Nuts For a Healthier World is embracing its members to sum up and help spread the word. If you would like to learn more and get involved, visit the campaign's site. You Want to Reduce Your Blood Sugar Levels? Dried Fruits Might Be Your Solution The Power of Dried Fruits One of the main characteristics of dried fruits is that they have a low to moderate glycemic index (GI). Therefore, it has been shown that they improve blood glucose control and may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This was the stating point of a study, supported by the INC International Nut and Dried Fruit Council and the UK National Dried Fruit Trade Association (NDFTA), published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, in which researchers analyzed the effect of combining dried fruits with white bread, a commonly eaten high GI carbohydrate food, and studied blood glucose responses before and after the test.   Combination Is the Key This study investigated the effect on blood glucose response to four dried fruits (dates, apricots, raisins and sultanas) when eaten alone or when consumed with white bread. Blood tests were taken from each of the 10 participants of the trail before and after the meals to assess changes in blood glucose. Each participant underwent a total of 15 study meals consisting of 3 white bread meals and 12 dried fruit meals. Dried Fruits May Take Your GI from High to Low The results showed that all four dried fruits when eaten alone, had a low to medium GI, while white bread had a high one. Once combined and having displaced half of the carbohydrate of white bread by dried fruit, the blood response was reduced with all meals and reached medium GI.   These findings will help stimulate important industry innovation and improve the design of future clinical investigations that will potentially lead to the use of dried fruit as an effective tool to modify the glycemic response of high carbohydrate foods. 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.“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 DietNuts 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? If you want to know more, read our article about a plant-based diet and the role of nuts and dried fruits. 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. 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 SummerNuts 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 cholesterolThis 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 life1.-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 heartPrevention 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 QualityResearchers 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.