Cultural and historical aspects of Mediterranean nuts with emphasis on their attributed healthy and nutritional properties.

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Salas-Salvadó J, Casas-Agustench P, Salas-Huetos A., 2011. Cultural and historical aspects of Mediterranean nuts with emphasis on their attributed healthy and nutritional properties. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 21(Suppl 1):S1-6.

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Nuts have been part of the human diet since prehistoric times. The aim of the present article is to describe the most important historical and cultural aspects of nut consumption throughout history. DATA SYNTHESIS: We discuss the following historical aspects of nuts originating in the Mediterranean: prehistory, the Egyptian civilization, their spread through the Mediterranean region by the Greek, Phoenician and Roman civilizations, and their reintroduction into Europe by means of the Al-Andalus culture. Particular emphasis is placed on the healthy and nutritional attributes that nuts have had throughout history. We also consider the role of the first globalization of food--the exchange of nuts between continents--and discuss the symbolism that nuts have had for humans throughout history in the context of cultural aspects of the Mediterranean region. CONCLUSIONS: Nuts and fruits are probably the earliest foods consumed by humans and are considered to be important because of their nutritional properties. Nuts have also been used in the past by different civilizations as drugs to prevent or treat several diseases.