Consultant nutritionist with the American Peanut Council Jennette Higgs told bakeryandsnacks.com: "There has never been a better time to focus on health to promote these products. It is an easy way of boosting business and manufacturers are missing out on this opportunity." By targeting consumers who are concerned about weight issues or just aiming to improve their diet, nut manufacturers are well-placed to benefit from the anti-obesity backlash. Peanuts are a good source of zinc, protein, fibre, magnesium and folate - making them a healthier option to other convenient, on-the-go snacks. Higgs believes peanuts are an important tool in fighting rising obesity levels and educating consumers on the importance of changing their diet and lifestyle. Given the peanuts long-standing popularity in the UK, convincing those most at risk of becoming overweight to turn to the widely-available nuts rather than unhealthy snacks is an achievable and realistic goal, according to the nutritionist. In the past consumers have been wary of peanuts, due to their reputation as a salty and fattening option. But Higgs argues this is an unhelpful myth and consumers would be pleasantly surprised by the actual salt content. "Peanuts contain less salt than most processed foods. It sticks to the outside kernel making them taste saltier but the nut itself is naturally low in salt," she explained. While consumers have been reticent to embrace any products with a high fat content, the American Peanut Council is keen to stress that the type of fats found in nuts are unsaturated and therefore actually needed for health. And studies have shown that eating nuts regularly can reduce the risk of heart disease. In September last year, the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) published a Europe-wide study indicating that eating just two handful of nuts a week could reduce the risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) by 11 per cent. According to market analyst firm Datamonitor, the UK peanut market is expected to reach £111.8 million (€163.2m) by 2010.