Nuts and seeds are relatively seldom included in modern mixed diet or nutritional studies, making an accurate assessment of consumption challenging. In a study of the minerals and trace elements in total diets in The Netherlands (Van Dokkum et al., 1989), nut consumption of 11 g/day was reported for 18-year-old males — a group selected on the basis of their presumably highest food consumption. The total intake of pure nut and seed products (composed of at least 90% nuts and/or seeds) for the European population as determined from dietary questionnaires was provided in a study on the association of nut and seed intake with colorectal cancer risk (Jenab et al., 2004). This study included 478,040 subjects. The average daily intake of nuts and seeds was 4.6 g for men (range 0—300 g/day) and 4.1 g (range 0—266 g/day) for women, with a range of < 1 g/day (Swedish women) to 11 g/day for Dutch men, thus confirming the previous estimate by Van Dokkum et al. (1989). The average intake of nuts in the USA is 3—7 g/day (Allen, 2008), with the tendency being to consume nuts as snacks as opposed to meal-time foods. In a study by Frasier et al. (1992), about 32% of the nuts eaten in the USA were peanuts, 29% almonds, 16% walnuts, and 23% of all other varieties. However, it should be pointed out that all of these intake figures may underestimate actual consumption, as they neglect possible contributions from food products with a relatively high nut and seed content, including salads, sauces, bread, desserts, and sweets.
Serving portions suggested on nuts packages sold as snacks vary from two tablespoons (approximately 10 g for pine nuts) to 100 g (peanuts). About 30 g of nuts per day is typically recommended in public health guidelines, and some studies have suggested an optimal intake level of 40 g or more to gain the maximum benefits.
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