A new survey from California Walnuts reveals that only one-fifth of Americans (19 percent) say they eat enough walnuts to support a diet for heart health. Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the US, but research has shown that simple dietary changes such as including walnuts in daily diets can have a significant impact on heart health.

California Walnuts touts the cardiovascular benefits of walnuts, which affect various factors related to heart health such as cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation and blood vessel function. In addition to its health benefits, this versatile, plant-based whole food makes a tasty addition to any meal with a buttery richness and satisfying texture.

One ounce of walnuts includes 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber, in addition to plant-based omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (2.5g/oz), an essential fatty acid that may play a role in heart health.

“Following a diet that supports heart health is important year-round and choosing foods, like walnuts, is a fundamental habit to build,” says California Walnuts partner, Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD. “From salads and oatmeal to baked goods, walnuts enhance the taste of everyday favorites while offering numerous potential health benefits.”

To help incorporate more walnuts into their diets, Cassetty suggests consumers eat a handful of walnuts every day. They can be included in oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast, roasted veggies or salad dishes at lunch, as a breading for fish or chicken at dinner and especially in desserts. Desserts are often a major source of added sugar in our diets, so it’s beneficial to explore more nutritious options, like Walnut Stuffed Chocolate Covered Dates or No-Bake Walnut, Cocoa, Cherry Bars.