Ingredient Focus: Top Tips for Using Nuts and Seeds for Immune Support (+Recipes)

As part of our ongoing education to help our readers find natural ways for immune support, we focus on nuts and seeds. We spotlight these crunchy morsels as sources of B-vitamins, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, antioxidants, prebiotic fibers and healthy fats. All nuts and seeds are great source of plant-based proteins, which support and protect the immune system at the cellular level and rid the body of damaged cells. Nuts and seeds are particularly high in the following nutrients:

Food sources of B-vitamins (B1, B6 and folate) are necessary to fight off infection and reduce inflammation commonly associated with chronic health conditions. Pistachios are particularly high in B1 and B6 nutrients. Almonds and flaxseeds contain good amounts of folate, which is important for DNA repair.

Zinc and selenium in foods provide nutrients that support the body’s master antioxidant, called glutathione, which is critical for immunity and cell signaling. Pine nuts, peanuts, cashews and almond contain zinc for immune support and body tissue reparation. Brazil nuts are a beneficial source of selenium, which strongly influences inflammation and immune response.

Nuts and seeds contain both alpha-tocopherols and gamma-tocopherols, which are forms of vitamin E that reduce inflammation. Sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, and pine nuts contain alpha-tocopherols. While gamma tocopherols are in English and black walnuts, sesame seeds, pecans, pistachios, flaxseed, and pumpkin seeds. One ounce of sunflower seeds contains 2/3rds of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin E, while the same volume of almonds contains half the RDA. The body needs 15mg of vitamin E per day, but most people do not get enough to meet this requirement (Read more here).

Prebiotics and fiber are important aspects of immune health. Nuts contain beneficial prebiotic fibers that improve gut microbiome diversity and support healthy probiotic gut bacteria, which enhances the immune system and protects against infection.

Seeds like chia, flax, pumpkin and hemp are abundant in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as important amino acids for overall immune function.

Nuts and Seeds In Your Daily Diet

Toasted squash and pumpkin seeds (recipe link below)

Other than snacking, how else can you add nuts and seeds to your daily eating habits? Here are a few ideas you may not have considered:

  1. Thicken soups/Add water soaked and then pureed nuts to your favorite soup to thicken it, in place of cream or rice. Almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts need about 8 hours of soaking, softer nuts like cashews, macadamias, and pine nuts need 2-4 hours of soaking and nuts like pecans, walnuts and Brazil nuts need only about an hour of soaking time. See our Food as Medicine EBook for a creamy vegan mushroom soup recipe with cashews.
  2. Add protein to non-dairy smoothies/If you’ve switched to nut or grain milks, they don’t always contain a significant amount of protein, B-vitamins or other important micronutrients. Add nuts or seeds to your smoothies to add important nutrients, boost the protein levels and increase satiety.
  3. Create a nut confit/Instead of roasting nuts in an oven, infuse them in olive oil for a rich flavor and texture tender. Try this recipe from Cooking Light. Serve the drained nuts on a cheese board, in salads and as a meat replacement. Save the infused oil to season vegetables, salads and baked goods).
  4. Wait! Don’t toss out squash and melon seeds, instead roast the seeds from winter squash and summer melons. It’s a fun kid’s cooking project and tasty nutritious snack. See our recipe here.
  5. Use ground nuts in place of flour/While almond flour is all the rage, other nut flours are just as tasty. The Italians have been using chestnut flour for centuries in baking, fresh pastas and crepes. Pecan flour works well for gluten-free, paleo/keto brownies, cookies and batter breads. When substituting a soft wheat or gluten free flour recipe, you can easily use a 50/50 split nut flours with all-purpose wheat or gluten-free flour blends. If using all nut flours, it will take some experimentation (look for an adapted recipes online).

Roasted Carrots with Chamoy and Almonds

If you don’t know Chef Yotam Ottolenghi, consider this fair warning. Regardless of the recipe you choose from any one of his cookbooks, you are in for an intense flavor experience that puts vegetables and plant-forward recipes in the center of the plate. The following recipe is an adaptation from his recent Flavor cookbook. He transforms the humble and affordable carrot into a tantalizing pop of sweet and tart thanks to an apricot and sumac chamoy, a sauce inspired from Mexican cuisine. Recipe adapted by Kimberly Lord Stewart from Flavor cookbook (one of New York Times best cookbooks of the year, 2020).


2 lbs of carrots, washed well

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 teaspoons maple syrup

Salt and pepper


6 ounces dried apricots (we used organic sulphur dioxide free)

2 teaspoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons sumac

3 Tablespoons lime juice

1/2-to-1 teaspoon crushed chile pepper flakes

1 clove garlic

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Apricot Herb Finish

1/3 cup mint leaves, minced

1/4 cup dill, minced

6 dried apricots (organic sulphur dioxide free), thinly sliced, scissors work well

1/3 cup roasted, salted almonds, roughly chopped

3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons lime juice


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Scrub carrots well, remove tops and cut on an angle into 2-3 inch stubs.
  3. Stir together olive oil, maple syrup in bowl and toss with carrots. Season with salt and pepper. Spread on pan and roast in hot oven for about 15-18 minutes until caramelized but still a bit firm (watch carefully as ovens vary).
  4. Meanwhile, place chamoy ingredients in a food processor. Puree until a slightly lumpy paste forms.
  5. When carrots are cooked, place in a serving bowl and toss with chamoy.
  6. Stir together mint, dill, sliced apricots, chopped almonds, olive oil and lime juice. Stir into carrots. Season with salt and pepper.

This article is sponsored by the Institute for Natural Medicine, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, partnered with the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians. INM’s mission is to transform healthcare in America by increasing both public awareness of naturopathic medicine and access to naturopathic doctors for patients. INM believes that naturopathic medicine, with its unique principles and practices, has the potential to reverse the tide of chronic illness that overwhelms existing health care systems and to empower people to achieve and maintain their optimal lifelong health. INM strives to achieve this mission through the following  initiatives:

  • Education – Reveal the unique benefits and outcomes of naturopathic medicine
  • Access – Connect patients to licensed naturopathic doctors
  • Research – Expand quality research of this complex and comprehensive system of medicine

Stewart is an award-winning editor, food and health journalist and best-selling author of Eating Between the Lines, the supermarket shopper's guide to the truth behind food labels (St. Martin's Press).

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Deb Hubers

Debra Hubers is a serial entrepreneur and has started seven businesses; ranging from an advanced genomics to an employer health care purchasing cooperative. Deb has over 35 years of experience in healthcare finance, education, technology, and pharmacogenomics.

Ms. Hubers has dedicated her career to measuring and improving healthcare outcomes. Her expertise is leveraging technology to deliver personalized, preventative medicine. Ms. Hubers co-founded La Vita Compounding Pharmacy in 2007. Collaborating with her business partner, physicians and strategic partners, Deb has grown La Vita to be one of the most respected and sought-after personalized medicine providers on the west coast. She is also Co-Founder of EpigeneticsRx, a leading provider of precise, personalized, prevention which positively impacts genetic expression.

Alex Keller, ND

Dr. Alex Keller, ND, AFMCP is a graduate of the University of Ottawa with an Honours Bachelor in Health Sciences and Psychology. Although originally intending to attend conventional medical school, following a three-month volunteer internship at a rural Kenyan hospital where he observed how doctors used local food to treat patients, he shifted his career goals and pursued a degree in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto.

After one year of practicing with the esteemed Dr. Chris Pickrell, ND, RH in a community acupuncture setting, in 2015 he and his wife Dr. Jenn Keller, ND moved to rural Ottawa, Canada where they started an organic farm and retreat center. In the same year, Alex and his athletic therapist sister Jess Keller combined their practices to form Keller Active Health, an integrative physical therapy clinic.

Ever curious and passionate about the education of evidence-based natural medicine, in 2017, Dr. Keller joined a fledgling Ottawa-based health tech startup named Fullscript. He serves as its Medical Director and oversees the development of medical education content for practitioners across North America.

Prior to medicine, Alex worked in the renewable energy sector, where he developed a deep passion for sustainable agriculture and environmental stewardship. This connection between medicine and agriculture now drives Alex to focus much of his energy on bringing awareness to the quality and sourcing standards in the supplement and organic agriculture supply chains.

Today, he splits his professional time practicing as a clinician, working for Fullscript, and expanding the farming operation while chasing his kids with Jenn and occasionally running ultra-marathon trail races. He is also currently completing an Executive MBA through the Quantic School of Business & Technology with a focus on supply chain innovation.

Pamela Snider, ND

Pamela Snider, ND, is Executive and Senior Editor for the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine Project, producing a first of its kind international textbook of Naturopathic medicine through a series of international retreats and symposia. A nationally recognized integrative health and policy leader, she is active in both national and regional integrative health initiatives. Dr. Snider serves on the Board of Directors, was founding Executive Director and co-founder of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Health (ACIH/ACCAHCa consortium of the councils of schools, accrediting agencies and certifying bodies of the licensed, traditional and emerging integrative health professions, and is currently Vice Chair and co-founder of the Integrative Health Policy Consortium (IHPC).  Dr. Snider served as a founding Board Member of the Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine from 2014-2016. Her public policy work includes completing a two year appointment to the DHHS Center For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee (MCAC); serving as a Steering Committee Member for  the HRSA funded American College of Preventive Medicine NCCIM Integrative Medicine in Preventive Medicine Residency program, co-directing in USPHS Region X the Building Bridges Between Provider Communities Group, an exploration of interdisciplinary collaboration and common ground between public health and CAM; serving for 22 years on Washington State’s Health Professional Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program Advisory Committee (HPLRSP); providing technical assistance to and developing key language for the enabling legislation for NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCIH/NCCAM); and staffing Joseph Pizzorno ND during his appointment as Commissioner on the White House Commission on CAM Policy.

From 1994-2003, Dr. Snider served as Associate Dean for Public and Professional Affairs and Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, dividing her work between academic and public affairs activities, including chairing the Naturopathic Medicine Program Curriculum Review Committee.  Dr. Snider has been teaching, publishing and lecturing widely on Naturopathic philosophy, theory integrative health, public policy, and other topics for over 30 years. Currently, an Associate Professor at National University of Natural Medicine (NUNM) in Portland, OR, Dr. Snider also continues at Bastyr University in her 22nd year as a faculty member teaching naturopathic medicine history, clinical theory, and global context. Among her Naturopathic medicine professional roles she serves on the Institute for Natural Medicine’s Leadership Council.  In 1989, she co-led the naturopathic profession with Dr. Jared Zeff, in developing a unifying definition of naturopathic medicine and its principles of practice adopted unanimously by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) House of Delegates. She was a co-investigator in the 2004 NIH NCCAM research study, the North American Naturopathic Medical Research Agenda and CAM Advisor in NIHCCAM’s Financing Integrative Health Care (University of Washington).  Her areas of experience include healthcare education; naturopathic and interdisciplinary clinical theory, curriculum development; clinical practice; government and legislative affairs, public policy, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community organizing.  Dr. Snider has received the Ontario Naturopathic Physician of the Year Award, the Physician of the Year Award from the AANP, the President’s Outstanding Vision Award and Distinguished Alumnus Award at Bastyr University, AANP’s President’s Award, an honorary Doctorate of Naturopathic Philosophy from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), the William A Mitchell Vis Award from the AANP and The Gathering – NMSA’s Beacon Award. She received her ND degree in 1982 from Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences and is a licensed naturopathic physician in the State of Washington. She lives with her husband and children at their homestead in North Bend Washington, in the beautiful mountain to sea landscape and home of The Revival – Restore the Vis, an annual student-led community gathering.

Susan Haeger

Susan Haeger is Founder/Principal of Transformative Health Solutions Inc. She has applied her twenty plus years in executive leadership to help shape and drive adoption of progressive health policy for whole person healthcare. She was a section contributor to the 2021 INM/AANP published professional white paper, Naturopathic Physicians as Whole Health Specialists: The Future is Whole Person Health Care that provides supporting evidence for the profession’s significant and unique contributions to preventive, whole person care and models of integrative clinical practice.

Bruce Barlean

Bruce Barlean is an owner and founder of Barlean’s, a global dietary supplement manufacturer located in the Pacific Northwest in Ferndale, WA. Bruce has been actively involved in the Natural Products industry since 1989 and is passionate about making a difference in the world and positively impacting the lives of others.

Bruce believes that people can make a difference in the world through ordinary purchases. He is committed to improving the quality of life for every person on the planet by making the best products and by using the profits to support outreach programs. Bruce summarizes it simply, “We make good stuff to do good stuff”.

In the late 1980’s Bruce became passionate about how health could be dramatically improved with Flax Oil Supplementation. Bruce along with his entrepreneurial parents saw the potential to improve the lives of many people and in 1989 they began selling Flax Oil under the Barlean’s name. From 1989 – 2000 the business grew an average of 40% year over year. While most companies saw a decline in business in the 2001 recession, Barlean’s continued to grow and soon became America’s #1 selling flaxseed oil and continues to be to the present. The brand has since expanded to include additional oils, green food concentrates and other premium supplements. Bruce continues to drive innovation and over the years his products and company have won countless awards including: Eight consecutive Vity Awards for #1 EFA, Six consecutive Vity Awards for #1 Greens Food Supplement, Natural Choice Award for Best Specialty Supplement, Best Product of the Year, Best New Product, Gold Medal Taster’s Choice Award, Gold Medal American Masters of Taste Award, #1 Health Food Store Brand for Consumer Satisfaction by Consumer Lab, and Manufacturer of the Year.

In 2013 as the company was on the eve of celebrating the 25th year in business Bruce and his parents decided to take their desire to help people to a new level that they call Pathway to a Better Life – which is now seen in the Barlean’s logo. Bruce and his parents had always been generous in their giving and support of charities, but as part of the Pathway to a Better Life they decided to increased partnership with charitable organizations such as: Vitamin Angels, Compassion International, KidsTown International, Autism Hope Alliance, Engedi Refuge, Project 92, and others. And because so many people are unable to meet basic nutritional needs, Bruce created a comprehensive Omega-3 and multivitamin formula that he distributes free-of-charge to local food banks. In addition, Bruce decided the company would supply food banks with organic coconut oil to provide people with a health alternative to standard cooking oils.

Always generous with his time Bruce has served as a youth leader for his local church for several years and continues to mentor youth. He has been on several not for profit boards including; Whatcom County Pregnancy Center (2003-2006), Natural Products Association (dates?), and the Institute for Natural Medicine Leadership Council (presently).

The Barlean family have been avid supporters of Bastyr University since the 1990’s and in 2013 were given Bastyr’s most prestigious honor, the Mission Award, which recognizes their leadership over time in improving the health and well-being of the human community.

Bruce currently resides in Ferndale, WA with his wife Lisa and their two dogs: Heinz & Shadow. When he’s not helping others he can be found fishing (catch & release).

Get Involved!

Michelle Simon

Michelle Simon, PHD, ND

President & CEO

As president and CEO of INM, Dr. Simon brings her passion for working with organizations dedicated to improving the quality and delivery of healthcare. This desire stems from her years of practice as a licensed naturopathic physician. In addition to holding a Naturopathic Doctorate from Bastyr University she also holds a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

She has served on boards for the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP), the Naturopathic Physicians Research Institute (NPRI), and several advisory boards. Dr. Simon served nine years on the Washington State Health Technology Clinical Committee, as Ambassador to the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and was recognized as 2018 AANP Physician of the Year. Dr. Simon shares with her husband a passion for adventure travel, preferably by boat or motorcycle. She also enjoys teaching a women’s off-road motorcycling class.