Objective: To consider historical aspects of nuts in relation to origin and distribution, attributed medicinal benefits, symbolism, legends and superstitions.
Design: Review of historical aspects of nuts.
Setting: Mediterranean region.
Subjects: The varieties reviewed include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts and pistachios.
Results and conclusions: Like other foods, nuts have a wide variety of cultural connections to the areas where they grow and to the people who live there or eat them. History, symbolism and legends reveal the ancient tradition of nuts and how they are related to the lives of our ancestors. Archaeological excavations in eastern Turkey have uncovered the existence of a non-migratory society whose economy centred on harvesting nuts. This shows that nuts have been a staple in the human diet since the beginnings of history. Moreover, since ancient times nuts have been used for their medicinal properties. They also play a role in many old legends and traditions.