Nuts and berries from agroforestry systems in temperate regions can form the foundation for a healthier human diet and improved outcomes from diet-related diseases
Agroforestry is a specific type of agroecosystem that includes trees and shrubs with the potential to yield nutrient-rich products that contribute to human health. This paper reviews the literature on the human health benefits of tree nut and berry species commonly associated with agroforestry systems of the United States, considering their potential for preventing certain diet-related diseases. Emphasis is placed on those diseases that are most closely associated with poor outcomes from COVID-19, as they are indicators of confounding health prognoses. Results indicate that tree nuts reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, and walnuts (Juglans species) are particularly effective because of their unique fatty acid profile. Berries that are grown on shrubs have the potential to contribute to mitigation of hypertension, prevention of Type II diabetes, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. To optimize human health benefits, plant breeding programs can focus on the traits that enhance the naturally-occurring phytochemicals, through biofortification. Value-added processing techniques should be selected and employed to preserve the phytonutrients, so they are maintained through the point of consumption. Agroforestry systems can offer valuable human health outcomes for common diet-related diseases, in addition to providing many environmental benefits, particularly if they are purposefully designed with that goal in mind. The food system policies in the U.S. might be reoriented to prioritize these food production systems based on the health benefits.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agroforestry Systems, 2023, available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10457-023-00858-8 . Keywords: multifunctional agriculture; tree crops; biofortification; tree nuts; berry crops; agroforestry.
Lovell, S.T., Krishnaswamy, K., Lin, CH. et al. Nuts and berries from agroforestry systems in temperate regions can form the foundation for a healthier human diet and improved outcomes from diet-related diseases. Agroforest Syst 97, 1347–1360 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-023-00858-8