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Nuts have a lot going for them these days, and that's good news for retailers, who perennially wrestle with those bulk floor displays erected in the produce department (or wherever else they can fit) during the holiday months.

Hopefully, consumers will help buy down those displays a bit faster this year, now that tree nuts are getting more positive ink. A report out in the current issue of the Journal of Nutrition notes that tree nuts like almonds, Brazils, cashews and walnuts promote weight management because the consumer feels full; they also have a beneficial impact on chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

nuts.jpgThe Food and Drug Administration gave its blessing in 2003 with a qualified health claim for nuts and heart disease, recommending 1.5 ounces of nuts per day. But researchers have found that few people actually consume this much; other studies show a large percentage eat roughly half of the recommended amount.

So, here's everyone's reminder: Nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E and magnesium. They are high in folate, beta-carotene, vitamin K, lutein+zeaxanthin, phosphorus, copper, selenium, potassium and zinc. And here's something not everyone knows. Nuts are an excellent source of antioxidants, and in some cases have amounts comparable to broccoli and tomatoes.

If there's anything holding sales back, it's consumers who continue to think of nuts only as snacks. Researchers think that, with their improving health profile and ability to make you feel full, nuts have potential to be promoted as an alternative protein and meat substitute. Is that nuts, or what?

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