Epidemiologic studies show that consuming tree nuts -- almonds, Brazils, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, macadamias and walnuts -- five or more times per week is associated with a reduced risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.
In one analysis, individuals who ate the most nuts had about a 35-percent reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
In the 2001-04 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 34 percent consumed nuts but most ate roughly half of the recommended amount.
"Many people consume as much as 25 percent of their total caloric intake from snacks," co-chairwoman Janet King of the 2007 Nuts and Health Symposium and past chairwoman of the 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee says in a statement.
"If we could replace snacks high in refined carbohydrates with just 1/4 to 1/3 cup of nuts per day we could have a positive impact on nutrient density and the risk of chronic disease."
Comments on the proceedings of the Nuts and Health Symposium are published in the September issue of the Journal of Nutrition.