About us

We really are crazy for tree nuts!

The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the health benefits of tree nuts and supporting nutrition research and education for consumers and health professionals throughout the world. Members include those associations and organizations that represent the nine tree nuts (almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts).

Nuts in heart bowl Hazelnut design element
Pecans Walnuts design element


INC NREF was formed in 1993, at a time when many health professionals and the media were recommending that people avoid nuts due to their fat content. As a result, leaders from the various tree nut industries decided to join forces and form the industry-funded INC NREF to support research on the potential health benefits of nuts.


Most of the early research focused on nuts and heart disease, and by 2002 there were 25 published studies (both industry and non-industry supported). That same year, INC NREF submitted a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting a health claim for nuts and coronary heart disease. In 2003, the FDA announced one of the first qualified health claims: “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Over the past 25 years, there have been roughly 800 publications looking at the effect of nuts on a variety of topics, including: allergy, bone health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive health, diabetes, consumption, gut health, metabolic syndrome, nutrient and bioactive composition, reproductive health, body weight and satiety. Currently, INC NREF is funding research on the benefits of nut consumption on weight, cognition and metabolic syndrome.

view research abstracts
Walnuts Walnuts design element
Pistachios Pistachios design element
Almonds Almonds orange design element


In addition to supporting research, INC NREF is committed to educating health professionals, consumers and media about the health benefits of tree nuts. Each year the organization engages with health professionals at a variety of conferences, distributing tree nut fact sheets, recipe booklets and posters. Many of these materials highlight the INC NREF website, nuthealth.org. With over 700 research abstracts and 200 recipes, nuthealth.org was developed to serve as a reliable source of information on tree nuts. Visitors to the site can learn about the many health benefits of nuts and how to include them in a healthy diet with user-friendly tips and usage ideas.

Our members

California Almonds
Oregon Hazelnuts
American Pecans
American Pistachio Growers
California Walnuts

Our Partners

Choose My Plate
Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences

Our executive team

Maureen Ternus, MS, RDN

Executive Director

The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation

Polly Owen


The International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation

For hi-res photographs of mixed nuts, contact Maureen Ternus MS, RDN

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