For the general population, the daily intake of elements from nuts and seeds can be estimated using relevant consumption data and concentration information (Table 7.1). The largest uncertainty in this approach is likely to be associated with defining the exact composition of the food basket fragment vaguely defined as nuts and seeds — i.e., the proportions of each of the different varieties included. As an alternative approach, Table 7.2 presents the calculated consumption of each nut and seed variety that would be sufficient to provide 10% of the daily intake level of an element (nutrient) considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of nearly all healthy individuals (approach taken from RDI definition). It is, of course, completely arbitrary to set the importance of a particular nutrition source to 10% of needs, but the values in Table 7.2 can easily be recalculated to any desired threshold. The consumption thus obtained can then be compared to the 1.9 kg of food the average person eats daily, to provide information on nutritional density.
Data from Table 7.2 reaffirm that nuts and seeds are very rich nutrition sources for magnesium, copper, manganese, and nickel, and important ones for iron, zinc, and potassium. For these elements, pumpkin seeds have the highest nutrition potential, followed by sunflower seeds, whereas coconuts occupy the opposite end of the scale. In spite of the significant variability of selenium concentrations in Brazil nuts (Table 7.1), consumption of even a single nut with the lowest published selenium content will contribute significantly to the daily intake of this element. Even sunflower seeds, cashews, and walnuts are relatively rich selenium sources. On the other hand, with the exception almonds, nuts and seeds can hardly be considered an important dietary source of calcium.
Since published chromium concentrations span almost two orders of magnitude for some nuts and seeds (Table 7.1), statements on the nutritional value will vary from insignificant (assuming Cr concentrations at the low ng/g level) to high (0.2—0.3 mg/g level). Peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are important sources of molybdenum, while pecans, cashews, Brazil nuts, and coconuts are not. Regarding boron, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, almonds, and cashews have significantly greater nutritional significance than coconuts. At the recommended nuts and seed consumption rate of 40 g/day, the intakes of sodium, chlorine, iodine, and vanadium will be negligible.
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