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Priority areas for research on the intake, composition, and health effects of tree nuts and peanuts

Allen, L.H., 2008. Priority Areas for Research on the Intake, Composition, and Health Effects of Tree Nuts and Peanuts. J. Nutr. 138: 1763S-1765S.

This article summarizes the main conclusions drawn from a conference on the health effects of nut consumption and identifies priority areas for future research. Individuals with higher intakes of nuts generally have higher intakes of many beneficial dietary constituents. More information is needed on nut composition, the bioavailability of nutrients, and other bioactive constituents. Better methods are needed to assess usual nut intake, including biomarkers, and the types, physical form, and amounts of nuts that are consumed. The feasibility of including nuts and seeds as a separate food group in the Dietary Guidelines should be tested, as should ways to increase nut intake. A moderate intake of nuts can be included in a weight loss regimen and further information is needed on whether nuts improve satiety as well as adherence to and efficacy of diets designed for weight reduction. There is substantial evidence that nut consumption reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Future research should investigate their benefits for prevention of congestive heart failure, including clinical studies in patients with this condition, to evaluate the effects of nuts on markers of heart disease risk. Higher nut consumption is associated with lower risk of diabetes and associated cardiovascular disease. More remains to be learned about the effects of nuts on postprandial glycemic and insulin response, glycemic control, and improvement of disease risk factors in subjects with prediabetes and diabetes. Information is needed on nut-induced allergic reactions, including their prevalence and consequences, causes of sensitization, biomarkers of severe reactions, and cross-reactivity to different types of nuts.

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