The Effect of Nut Consumption on Diet Quality, Cardiometabolic and Gastrointestinal Health in Children: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 8;18(2):454. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18020454.


Tree nuts and ground nuts are nutrient-rich foods known to improve human health when consumed regularly in the diet. Past observational studies suggest that nuts improve adult and child health; however, limited randomized control trials (RCTs) have assessed the health effects of nuts in children. Using a systematic review approach, we examined the effect of nut intake on health outcomes in children aged 8-18 years. We searched PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, EMBASE and Cochrane library to identify RCTs of interest. A total of 5783 articles were identified, 4821 were screened by title and abstract and 37 by full text resulting in four articles that met the inclusion criteria for the review. Nut consumption was between 15 and 30 g with durations of between 3 and 16 weeks. Nut consumption was shown to improve children's diet quality (increase children's intake of essential nutrients including fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats), protein and fiber), there were inconsistent effects on biomarkers of cardiometabolic health (improve lipid profiles, microvascular reactivity and inflammation) and gastrointestinal health (increase in the proportion of beneficial fecal bacteria). Further studies exploring the broad health benefits of nuts in children are needed with consideration given to higher doses and longer intervention periods.

Keywords: cardiometabolic health; child; diet quality; gastrointestinal health; tree nuts.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fiber
  • Humans
  • Nuts*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Dietary Fiber