that the fat-soluble antioxidants like beta-carotene found in pumpkin
seeds, can help protect the body from skin cancer.
Of all nuts, the antioxidant powerhouse is the walnut. A study published in Science Daily in March 2011 reported that walnuts contain almost twice as much antioxidant as an equivalent amount of any other
commonly consumed nut. Much of this antioxidant is found in the
thin skin around the meat, called the pellicle.
“H“Hempseed is rich in vitamin E and phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc, as
Pecans are also rich in antioxidants. A 2004 study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published in the Journal of Agriculture
and Food Chemistry ranked the antioxidant capacity of 100 foods and
found that pecans are one of the top 15 sources of antioxidants. As in
walnuts, a large amount of the antioxidants are found in the pellicle of
the nut. Compared with other nuts, pecans also have one of the highest levels of phytosterols, a group of plant chemicals that has been directly proven to help reduce cholesterol. Phytosterols are also one of
the few health claims the FDA allows. Two grams a day of phytosterols
(expressed as nonesterified phytosterols) are required to make an authorized health claim relating phytosterol consumption to cholesterol
lowering and cardiovascular disease risk. Sesame seeds and sunflower
seeds are also sources of phytosterols.
Almonds provide 35 percent of the daily value (DV) for the antioxidant vitamin E, which may help protect against diseases such as
Alzheimer’s. Pistachios are a source of beta-carotene and lutein, an antioxidant typically found in dark, leafy vegetables that’s been shown to
protect our eyes from macular degeneration. Hazelnuts have the highest nut level of folate, a B vitamin known to reduce the risk of birth defects.
Chia seed is also an antioxidant powerhouse, with chlorogenic
acids and caffeic acids that are shown to be significantly stronger antioxidants than vitamin C and E, and quercetin, which is shown to be
more powerful at preventing oxidation of lipids and proteins than
most flavonol compounds when present in significant amounts. Additionally, chestnuts, peanuts and sunflower seeds are also very rich in
total antioxidants. Brazil nuts, macadamias, pine kernels, cashew nuts,
poppy seeds and sesame seeds contain significant amounts of total antioxidants.
All these antioxidants act in vivo to bring about beneficial health effects, inducing mechanisms related to antioxidant defense, longevity,
cell maintenance and DNA repair.
well as protein and is also a source of omega 3s.”
also provides an important nutritional
supply of many essential nutrients
that play key roles in the body, including magnesium, copper, manganese,
phosphorus, nickel, iron, zinc, potassium and, to a lesser extent, boron
and molybdenum. For example,
cashew nuts are a good source of
magnesium, which is key for bone
strength, and a very good source of
copper, which is important in iron utilization, elimination of free radicals
and development of bone and connective tissue.
Brazil nuts usually contain high
amounts of selenium, which is essential for helping the body maintain
healthy thyroid hormone function
(critical for regulating metabolism).
Walnuts are a good source of manganese and copper. Sunflower seeds
are a good source of magnesium and
selenium. Almonds are an excellent
source of manganese, a very good
source of magnesium and a good
source of phosphorus and copper.
While nutrition data from the
USDA and others provides a DV of
these minerals typically found in nuts
and seeds, the levels of these nutrients also can vary greatly depending
on where the nut or seed is grown
and the minerals present in the soil.
Minerals and Trace Elements
A relatively modest average daily consumption of nuts and seeds
Toxicities Associated with Nuts
As with all agricultural items, the
soil nuts and seeds grow in can also
contain some toxins. Arsenic, lead
and mercury concentrations have
been reported as well as levels of silver, aluminum, antimony, tin, tellurium, thorium and uranium.
Assuming the lower range of reported values provides the most reliable and accurate estimates, daily
consumption of even > 100 g of nuts
and seeds will correspond to less than
1 percent of tolerable intakes; still it is
advisable for companies sourcing any
items to ensure that these products
are screened for contamination.