The Traditional and Emerging Role of Nuts in Healthful Diets


  • This report highlights the proceedings from two recent conferences—Nuts and Nutrition: The Role of a Complex Plant Food in the Diet, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the American Dietetic Association, the American Heart Association, and the University of California at Davis, held in San Francisco on September 28–29, 1995, and Nuts, Legumes and Health—Perspectives from Asia and the Pacific, organized by the Oldways Preservation & Exchange Trust, and held in San Francisco on November 28–29, 1995. These conferences were sponsored in part by the International Nut Council and the National Peanut Council.

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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.