Everyone is nuts about nuts. Scientists, nutritionist, growers, consumers and kids absolutely love nuts.
Nuts come in an absolute variety of sizes, shapes, colors and flavors. But I have a secret to tell that I didn't know myself... are you sitting down?
Some nuts aren't technically nuts at all! What we think of as the common nut can be fooling us! Well, it's time to "crack" the mystery.
Nuts vs. Legumes
The difference between nuts and legumes aren't always obvious by mere sight.Both legumes and nuts consist of a simple dry fruit carried inside a pod or shell, but upon examining the details, the two groups prove to have significant differences.
A nut will usually have only one seed and at most it will have two but, legumes often contain multiple seeds; it isn't uncommon for a pea pod to contain half a dozen peas, right?
Additionally, a true nut is always indehiscent, meaning it won't open on its own. The majority of legumes are dehiscent, opening naturally along a seam on two sides. Again, the pea pod is an obvious example of this.
The seed of a true nut is never attached to the ovary wall, while legumes often contain seeds attached to their pods. legumes are known to replenish nitrogen in the soil, making legumes ideal for use in crop rotations.
Legumes contain starch, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Nuts contain protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Peanuts (legume) are an all American favorite. They were indeed discovered by the native people and conquistador introduced them to the 'New World'. They grow underground and not on trees as like a walnut. Peanuts are also commonly called Goobers, which are actually legumes as like a pinto bean or navy bean. Peanuts are a favorite to Americans and used in numerous products. They pack a hearty serving of protein.
Serving: 32 peanuts
Nutrition: 159 cal; 14g fat; 7g protein
Fresh idea: use in stir-fry, brittle, peanut butter cookies or salads for extra crunch.
Walnuts (fruit) are my absolute favorite nut.. ahem.. legume. Baked goods just aren't the same without a fist full of walnuts.
Walnuts are one of the oldest tree fruits that man has ever discovered. That's right, walnuts are actually fruit! They've been traded along the Silk Road for centuries. The meaty kernels arrived in the America in the late 1700's and has been the tops of the tops for baking. Walnuts are really an American signature when it comes to baking.
Did you know that one handful of walnuts boasts more antioxidants than other shelled snacks. They're ultimate favorite amongst dieters, heat patients and diabetics.
Serving: 14 walnut halves
Nutrition: 183 cal; 18g fat; 4g protein
Fresh idea: Sprinkle over mushroom soup for added earthiness.
Pistachios (seed). Legend has it that pistachio trees were planted in Nebuchadnezzar's famed gardens around 600 BC. Scientists have found the earliest pistachio trees in Syria, Persia (Iran) and Iraq.
Thomas Jefferson even tried growing pistachio trees at Monticello but, the cold weather was too harsh for the young trees. A gift from Jefferson to George Washington was made of pistachio trees.
These lovely tasting green seeds are loaded with vitamin B6 (20% of your daily value per ounce).
Serving: 49 pistachios
Nutrition: 158 cal; 13g fat; 6g protein
Fresh idea: Roll goat cheese in chopped pistachios for a salad topping
Almonds (fruit) are botanically considered a fruit just like an apple or orange. This explains why they're so good in sweets and deserts. Besides their wonderful, one ounce of almonds supplies the same amount of polyphenols (health-promoting compounds) as a cup of green tea.
Serving: 22 almonds
Nutrition: 161 cal; 14g fat; 6g protein
Fresh idea: Slivered almonds are at home in a batch of granola, macaroons, dipped in dark chocolate, pesto.
Brazil nuts (actual nut) are unique with their high selenium content, whose antioxidant properties protect against heart disease, cancer, and aging. If you've never tried these, it's not too late. Brazil nuts are sold all year round and you can find them either in the shell (raw) or roasted out of the shell.
Serving: 25 Brazil nuts
Nutrition: 172 cal; 11g fat; 7g protein
Fresh idea: as is or topped with a bit of cream cheese to cut the bitter flavor.
Types of legumes
Many supermarkets and food stores stock a wide variety of legumes — both dried and canned. Below are several of the more common types and their typical uses.
|Types of nuts||Calories||Total fat|
|Almonds, raw||163||14 g (1.1 g/12.2 g)|
|Almonds, dry roasted||169||15 g (1.1 g/12.9 g)|
|Brazil nuts, raw||186||19 g (4.3 g/12.8 g)|
|Cashews, dry roasted||163||13.1 g (2.6 g/10 g)|
|Chestnuts, roasted||69||0.6 g (0.1 g/0.5 g)|
|Hazelnuts (filberts), raw||178||17 g (1.3 g/15.2 g)|
|Hazelnuts (filberts), dry roasted||183||17.7 g (1.3 g/15.6 g)|
|Macadamia nuts, raw||204||21.5 g (3.4 g/17.1 g)|
|Macadamia nuts, dry roasted||204||21.6 g (3.4 g/17.2 g)|
|Peanuts, legume, dry roasted||166||14 g (2g/11.4 g)|
|Pecans, dry roasted||201||21 g (1.8 g/18.3 g)|
|Pistachios, dry roasted||161||12.7 g (1.6 g/10.5 g)|
|Walnuts, halved||185||18.5 g (1.7 g/15.9 g)|
What's in nuts that's thought to be heart healthy?Although it varies by nut, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:
- Unsaturated fats. It's not entirely clear why, but it's thought that the "good" fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.
- Omega-3 fatty acids. Many nuts are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are a healthy form of fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing dangerous heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in many kinds of fish, but nuts are one of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Fiber. All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. Fiber is also thought to play a role in preventing diabetes.
- Vitamin E. Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.
- Plant sterols. Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products like margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.
- L-arginine. Nuts are also a source of l-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.