Throughout history, nuts have been a staple food providing energy, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Today, nuts are classified as part of the USDA Food Guide Pyramid's Meat/Meat Alternate Group. Foods in this group contribute protein as well as important vitamins and minerals to the diet. Nuts are also being studied for their potential health benefits. Research suggests that there may be a connection between frequent nut consumption and a reduced incidence of coronary heart disease. Thus, tradition and promising scientific evidence combine to support the role of nuts in healthful eating.