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Food has come a long way since our ancestors gathered nuts as a means of survival for harsh winters when food was scarce. We certainly have a more varied diet today, but nuts are still a staple in our diets, as a snack or in stir-fries and as a dessert ingredient or topping. But nowadays nuts are really starting to play a starring role in salads, in many cases they’ve replaced croutons altogether as the go-to crunch.

Let’s face it, they’ve got more flavour than toasted chunks of bread and they’re a whole lot more versatile. They can be candied for a little sweet touch and toasted, roasted, salted or seasoned for a hit of savoury.

There are also some pretty compelling health reasons to add nuts to your salad repertoire, with both the Harvard Health Report and, The Nurses’ Health Study linking the regular consumption of small portions of a variety of nuts with significantly reduced risk of coronary heart disease.

The unsaturated fats in nuts can improve blood cholesterol levels, especially when substituted for foods high in saturated fat or refined carbohydrates such as meat and cheese, croutons and bread or sugary foods. Other nutrients and substances in nuts also have heart-health benefits, including B vitamins, zinc, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin E and fibre (much of it soluble). And, with the recommended daily portion of nuts being just 30g, great-tasting nutty salads are the ideal way to bring the benefits of nuts to your customers.

It’s a win-win situation for any salad-lover – a delicious crunch and all-natural goodness that perfectly compliments your creation.

In a nutshell – Top trending salad nuts

Pine nuts – high in magnesium, these little babies provide an energy boost while reducing blood pressure too! Sprinkle on plain or lightly toasted. Pine nuts are great with salads containing chicken or beef.

Almonds –. They’re already a staple in the pastry section but now the almond is getting adventurous on salad plates, particularly in savoury salads using chicken and lamb.

Macadamias –Macadamias are fantastic with shaved zucchini and parmesan, avocado or a host of Asian-style salads using beef or pork. For diners on high fat diets, macadamias have the most calories of all nuts and the most fat, most of which is good quality unsaturated fat – oh and they’re totally delicious too!