Submitted to: Asian Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/8/2010
Publication Date: 1/20/2010
Citation: Bolling, B.W., Mckay, D.L., Blumberg, J.B. 2010. The phytochemical composition and antioxidant actions of tree nuts. Asian Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 19(1):117-123. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: In addition to being a rich source of several essential vitamins and minerals, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, and fiber, most tree nuts provide an array of phytochemicals that may contribute to the health benefits attributed to this whole food. Although many of these constituents remain to be fully identified and characterized, broad classes include the carotenoids, hydrolyzable tannins, lignans, naphtoquinones, phenolic acids, phytosterols, polyphenols, and tocopherols. These phytochemicals have been shown to possess a range of bioactivity, including antioxidant, antiproliferative, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and hypocholesterolemic properties. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the carotenoid, phenolic, and tocopherol content of tree nuts and associated studies of their antioxidant actions in vitro and in human studies. Tree nuts are a rich source of tocopherols and total phenols and contain a wide variety of flavonoids and proanthocyanidins. In contrast, most tree nuts are not good dietary sources of carotenoids and stilbenes. Phenolic acids are present in tree nuts but a systematic survey of the content and profile of these compounds is lacking. A limited number of human studies indicate these nut phytochemicals are bioaccessible and bioavailable and have antioxidant actions in vivo.