Protein

The protein content of nuts is quite variable, but most nuts are considered to be a good source of protein. It is low (2-3%) in the chestnut and coconut, between 8 and 15% for most other nuts, but high (18-26%) in the cashew, pistachio, almond, and peanut, so that the amount of protein in many nuts is about the same as in meat, fish, or cheese. Pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds are also rich in protein.

However, the proportions of indispensable amino acids in any one particular type of nut or seed, and in fact all plant foods, differ from those needed in the human diet, with one or sometimes more 'limiting amino acids.' In most nuts and seeds, with the exception of pistachio nuts and pumpkin seeds, it is lysine that is the limiting amino acid. Thus, although the total amount of protein in nuts and seeds may be high, these foods must be complemented by other sources of plant protein, such as legumes and/or animal sources of protein (meat, fish, eggs, milk, cheese), to ensure that the overall protein quality of the diet is adequate.

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