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Processed Nuts

Introduction
There is historical evidence that nuts are the oldest form of food for man, birds, and wild animals. Nuts are one of nature’s richest foods. Nuts in general usage are understood to be dry seeds or fruit of some plants. A wide variety of dried seeds and fruits are called nuts, but only few of them are regarded truly as nuts by the biologists. Nuts are an important source of nutrition for both humans and wildlife.

All nuts are seeds, but not all seeds are nuts. Nuts are both the seed and the fruit, and cannot be separated. Seeds come from fruit, and can be removed from the fruit, like almonds, cashews and pistachios, which were once inside fruit.

Botanical Definition
In botanical terms, nut is basically a dry fruit usually with one seed (though occasionally two seeds can also be found). The ovary wall of

such a dry fruit becomes very hard (stony or woody) on maturity and the seed inside it remains unattached or unfused to the ovary wall. Majority of the nuts yield from the pistils with inferior ovaries  and all are indehiscent (not opening at maturity). Nuts include chestnuts, filberts, and walnuts; but other so-called nuts are botanically seeds (Brazil nut, Pistachio), legumes (Peanut), or drupes (Almond and Coconut).
 

Culinary Definition
Any large, oily kernel found within a shell and used in food is considered as a nut in chef's terminology. Since nuts usually high on oil content, they are a highly prized food and energy source. A large number of seeds are edible by humans and used in cooking/eating in wide range of forms like raw, sprouted, or roasted as a snack food, or pressed for oil that is used in cookery and cosmetics.

A Brief Background
Although nuts were originally harvested from wild trees, this century has seen the increasing cultivation of nut orchards—especially in warmer climates—for commercial production both for food and for byproducts.

 

Nutrition Contents in Nuts
Nuts are a good source of dietary fibre, essential fatty acids and plant protein. They also contain many vitamins, such as folic acid, niacin and vitamins E and B6, and a range of minerals, including iron, magnesium, copper, zinc, selenium, phosphorus and potassium. In addition, they are a source of biologically active components known as phytochemicals, which may have important health properties.

Nuts are relatively high in fat and calories and because of which they are often not regarded as potential components of a healthy diet. However, most of the fatty acids in nuts are monounsaturated. Numerous studies have shown that replacement of saturated fatty acids in the diet by monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids can lower blood levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol).

 

Health Benefits
Eating nuts more than once a week is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Nuts for instance almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts and brazil nuts, are good sources of antioxidants, such as vitamin E and selenium. Walnuts (and walnut oil) are a good source of the omega 3 (n-3) fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid. Although alpha-linolenic acid can theoretically be elongated and desaturated to the long-chain n-3 fatty acids.

Contrary to the usual concern that the high fat and calorie content of nuts may promote weight gain, emerging evidence suggests that diets which include nuts may promote a feeling of satiety (or of being satisfied) and, therefore, potentially prevent weight gain.

Nuts are an excellent source of energy in the form of fat, consisting of mostly poly-unsaturated and mono-unsaturated fats. Mono- and poly-unsaturated vegetable fats reduce general blood cholesterol levels.

 
Processed Nuts
Nuts are sold both shelled and unshelled. Shelled nuts come in many forms including blanched or not, whole, halved, chopped, sliced or minced. Additionally, shelled nuts come raw, dry-roasted, oil-roasted, with or without salt, smoked, candied and with various flavorings such as jalapeño and garlic. They're sold in plastic bags and boxes, and vacuum-packed in cans and jars. Because of their high fat content, rancidity is always a hazard with nuts. For that reason they should be stored airtight in a cool place. Shelled nuts can be refrigerated in this manner up to 4 months, frozen up to 6 months. As a general rule (and depending on their freshness at the time of storage), unshelled nuts will keep about twice as long as shelled.

Exotic Varieties
  • Almonds - While the almond is most often eaten on its own, raw or toasted, it is used in some dishes. It, along with other nuts, is often sprinkled over desserts, particularly sundaes and other ice cream based dishes. It is also used in making baklava and nougat. There is also almond butter. Processed almonds are available as Roasted Almonds, Chocolate Almonds, Sliced and Slivered Almonds, Honey Roasted and Smoked Almonds.
  • Black Walnuts - These distinctive flavored nuts are used in cooking for everything from bread and pancakes to ice cream.
  • Brazil Nuts - The most significant exporter of Brazil nuts is not Brazil but Bolivia. These are procured from the Amazon forests of Brazil and Bolivia. Just a few of these delicious nuts a day are a valuable source of dietary selenium, potassium and vitamin B. Brazil nut protein contains all the necessary amino acids we need, so they are particularly suited for vegetarian diets.
  • Cashew - Originally spread from Brazil by the Portuguese, the cashew tree is now cultivated in all regions with a sufficiently warm and humid climate. Cashews contain 180 calories per ounce (6 calories per gram), 70% of which are from fat. Cashew is produced in around 32 countries of the world. Processed cashews are available in Roasted Cashews, Honey Roasted Cashews, and Chocolate Cashews.
  • Chestnut - These nuts are an important food crop in southern Europe, southwestern and eastern Asia, and in North America.
  • Hazelnut - Hazelnuts are rich in protein and unsaturated fat. Moreover, they contain significant amounts of thiamine and vitamin B6, as well as smaller amounts of other B vitamins.Additionally, for those persons who need to restrict carbohydrates, 1 cup (237 ml) of hazelnut flour has 20 g of carbohydrates, 12 g fibre, for less than 10 net carbohydrates.
  • Macademia - The nuts are a valuable food crop. Only two of the species, M. integrifolia and M. tetraphylla, are of commercial importance. The remainder of the genus possess poisonous and/or inedible nuts, such as M. whelanii and M. ternifolia; the toxicity is due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides.
  • Pecan - They can be eaten fresh or used in cooking, particularly in sweet desserts but also in some savory dishes. One of the most common desserts with the pecan as a central ingredient is the pecan pie, a traditional southern U.S. recipe. Pecans are also a major ingredient in praline candy, most often associated with New Orleans.
  • Peanut - The peanut, or Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) is a species in the legume family Fabaceae native to Mexico and Central America. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing to 30 to 50 cm (1 to 1½ ft) tall. Peanuts are also known as earthnuts, goobers, goober peas, pindas, jack nuts, pinders, manila nuts and monkey balls. The last of these is often used to mean the entire pod, not just the seeds.
  • Pinenut - Pine nuts are the edible seeds of pines. About 20 species of pine produce seeds large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines the seeds are also edible, but are too small to be of value as a human food. In Europe, pine nuts come from the Stone Pine (Pinus pinea), which has been cultivated for its nuts for over 6,000 years, and harvested from wild trees for far longer.
  • Pistachio - The kernels are often eaten whole, either fresh or roasted and salted, and are also used in ice cream and confections such as baklava. "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease".
  • Walnut - The nuts of all the species are edible, but the walnuts commonly available in stores are from the Persian Walnut, the only species which has a large nut and thin shell. A horticultural form selected for thin nut shells and hardiness in temperate zones is sometimes known as the 'Carpathian' walnut. The nuts are rich in oil, and are widely eaten both fresh and in cookery.
  • Fruit and Nut Trail Mixes.

Popularity of Nuts
This is an exciting time for nuts because consumer use and consumption of all kinds of nuts is on a steady increase. Salty, sweet, dried or glazed--consumers today can have their nut snacks any way (and anywhere) they want thanks to the category's explosive popularity. It may not be at all wrong to conclude that the growth in the nut snacks category is the direct response to increased consumer awareness.

An increased awareness of GMO, chemicals, pesticides, hormones and other unhealthy ingredients in conventional snacks has helped boost the success of the processed nut snacks category. So has heightened awareness of the new dietary guidelines, which call for an abundant variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Increasing cases of obesity have also helped spark the demand for sugar-free and low-fat snacks. While it's obvious that consumers are more informed about the benefits of munching on dried fruit and nut snacks, a plethora of new products have recently hit the market in an attempt to satisfy everyone's sweet or salty tooth.

Global Market Demand For Processed Nuts
People are choosing to live and eat healthier and there are simply not enough healthy, convenient eating alternatives available to them until now. Bolstered by positive ties to health, processed nuts are gaining in both the snack and baking aisles. There should be more packaging options and the industry must focus on moving beyond holiday sales can build incremental sales.

Market Opportunity in India
Nuts make a substantial contribution to the Indian diet. There is tremendous potential in the Indian market. Not only are nuts and dry fruits a part of the traditional Indian diet but the purchasing power of the middle class spells an opportunity. Apart from that, since there is no national brand in the nuts category, which mean huge untapped market opportunity.

 

 
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