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Products: Walnuts
Subject: Diet quality

A Dietary Model of Partial Meat Replacement with Walnuts Demonstrates Changes in the Nutrient Profile and Quality of the United States Population’s Diet

Authors: Spence, L. A., Henschel, B., Li, R., Tekwe, C. D., & Thiagarajah, K.
  • Journals: Nutrients
  • Pages: 4518
  • Volume: 15(21)
  • Year: 2023
The purpose of the study is to assess the impact of partial meat replacement with walnuts using a dose-escalation approach on nutrient intake and diet quality in the usual US diet. Food modeling was implemented using the nationally representative 2015-2018 National Health and Examination Survey (NHANES), with a focus on non-nut consumers, which included 2707 children and adolescents and 5190 adults. Walnuts replaced meat in a dose-escalating manner (0.5, 1, 1.5, and 2 oz walnuts per day replaced 1, 2, 3, and 4 oz meat, respectively). Diet quality was estimated using the population ratio method of the 2015 Healthy Eating Index. The usual intake of nutrients was estimated using the National Cancer Institute method. Significant differences were determined using non-overlapping 95% confidence intervals. The partial replacement of meat with walnuts demonstrated significant increases in the mean intake of fiber, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids and significant decreases in cholesterol and vitamin B12 in the modeled diets for children, adolescents, and adults. Additionally, the partial replacement of meat with walnuts improved overall diet quality. Walnut consumption at 1-2 oz as a replacement for some meat may improve nutrient intake and diet quality across age groups.