What is a Nut?
A nut is a fruit consisting of a hard or tough nutshell protecting a kernel that is usually edible. In general usage and in a culinary sense, a wide variety of dry seeds are called nuts, but in a botanical context “nut” implies that the shell does not open to release the seed
11 Varieties and Types of Nuts
1. Pistachio Nuts
The pistachio, a member of the cashew family, is a small tree originating from Central Asia and the Middle East. The tree produces seeds that are widely consumed as food. Pistacia vera is often confused with other species in the genus Pistacia that are also known as pistachio.
Pistachio nuts have high levels of unsaturated fatty acids and potassium. They can lower your chances of cardiovascular disease. Pistachios are bursting with fiber, minerals, and unsaturated fat that can help keep your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol in check.
The hazelnut is the fruit of the hazel and therefore includes any of the nuts deriving from species of the genus Corylus, especially the nuts of the species Corylus avellana. They are also known as cobnuts or filberts according to species.
Hazelnuts are packed with nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidant compounds, and healthy fats. They may also have health benefits, including helping decrease blood fat levels, regulating blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving blood sugar levels, among others.
Cashews are a kidney-shaped seed sourced from the cashew tree — a tropical tree native to Brazil but now cultivated in various warm climates across the world. While “raw” cashews are widely sold, truly raw cashews are not safe to eat, as they contain a substance known as urushiol, found in poison ivy.
Cashews are low in sugar and rich in fiber, heart-healthy fats, and plant protein. They’re also a good source of copper, magnesium, and manganese — nutrients important for energy production, brain health, immunity, and bone health.
A walnut is the nut of any tree of the genus Juglans, particularly the Persian or English walnut, Juglans regia. A walnut is the edible seed of a drupe, and thus not a true botanical nut. It is commonly consumed as a nut.
Walnuts are rich in antioxidants. They are super plant sources of Omega-3s. They may decrease inflammation. They promote a healthy gut. They may reduce the risk of some cancers. They support weight control. They may help manage Type 2 diabetes and lower your risk. They may help lower blood pressure.
5. Marcona Almonds
Sometimes called “the queen of almonds,” Marcona almonds are large and flat, with a higher fat content than California almonds. Imported from Spain, Marcona almonds typically have been fried in either olive oil or sunflower oil and then salted
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, giving you 70 percent of the recommended daily allowance. You’re also getting magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron, and fiber–plus more calcium than any other nut (which makes them a great snack idea for vegetarians!).
6. Macadamia Nuts
Most people incorrectly apply the term nut to any seed with a large oil kernel found within a hard shell, but if the hard shell opens and the seed is not fused to the hard ovary “shell,” then it is not a nut. … So in short, a macadamia nut is actually a seed.
Macadamia nuts are high in healthy fats and may help those trying to lose weight. One serving of macadamia nuts also contains dietary fiber, protein, manganese, thiamine, and a good amount of copper. The fat content of macadamia nuts is higher than that of other popular nuts such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts.
They improve metabolic syndrome and diabetes. They may prevent cancer. They protect the brain. They may prevent weight gain. They stave off hunger.
The peanut, also known as the groundnut, goober, Pindar, or monkey nut, and taxonomically classified as Arachis hypogaea, is a legume crop grown mainly for its edible seeds. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, being important to both small and large commercial producers.
Peanuts are as popular as they are healthy. They’re an excellent plant-based source of protein and high in various vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds. They can be useful as a part of a weight loss diet and may reduce your risk of both heart disease and gallstones.
8. Almond Nuts
The almond is a species of tree native to Iran and surrounding countries but widely cultivated elsewhere. The almond is also the name of the edible and widely cultivated seed of this tree. Although almonds are commonly referred to as a nut, they are actually teardrop-shaped edible seeds that are the fruit of the almond tree.
Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, protein, magnesium, and vitamin E. The health benefits of almonds include lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure, and lower cholesterol levels. They can also reduce hunger and promote weight loss
9. Brazil Nuts
The Brazil nut is a South American tree in the family Lecythidaceae, and it is also the name of the tree’s commercially harvested edible seeds. It is one of the largest and longest-lived trees in the Amazon rain forest.
Brazil nuts have a high proportion of monounsaturated fat, which is a healthy fat. They also contain some protein, fiber and offer a good source of important nutrients, including magnesium, zinc, calcium, selenium, and vitamin E.
10. Pine Nuts
Pine nuts, also calledpiñón (Spanish: [piˈɲon]), pinoli (Italian: [piˈnɔːli]), or pignoli, are the edible seeds of pines (family Pinaceae, genus Pinus). According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, only 29 species provide edible nuts, while 20 are traded locally or internationally owing to their seed size is large enough to be worth harvesting; in other pines, the seeds are also edible but are too small to be of notable value as human food.
Pine nuts can increase your energy levels due to their protein, iron, and magnesium. The antioxidant power of vitamin E contained in them may help keep your skin healthy and young in appearance. Additionally, regularly eating pine nuts or other seeds and nuts may help reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease
11. Pecan Nuts
A pecan, like the fruit of all other members of the hickory genus, is not truly a nut but is technically a drupe, a fruit with a single stone or pit.
Pecans are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. Most of the fat found in pecans is a healthy type called monounsaturated fat.
Pecans also contain Omega-3 fats, which can help ease the pain of arthritis by reducing inflammation. The magnesium, calcium, fiber, vitamin E, and zinc in pecans also give the nuts anti-inflammatory properties.
Nuts as Our Ancestor’s Diet
A huge number of studies are finding that there are a number of health benefits of nuts. And that they are actually one of the most health-giving foods on the planet. And while the research is new — nuts aren’t.
In fact, a recent archaeological dig in Israel found evidence that nuts formed a major part of our ancestors’ diet 780,000 years ago.
Dig researchers discovered seven varieties of nuts, along with stone tools to crack them open. These stone tools, called “nutting stones,” are similar to those found in the United States and Europe which archaeologists date back 4,000 to 8,000 years.
Today, many of us enjoy walnuts, almonds, pecans, Brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews, macadamia nuts, and hazelnuts, plus an honorary nut we call peanuts (even though peanuts are technically a legume) with enthusiasm.
Yet, we are only beginning to appreciate the enormous nutritional benefits that nuts give us.
More Health Benefits of Nuts.
2. Epidemiological studies have linked eating nuts with reduced rates of heart disease and gallstones, as well as beneficial effects on hypertension, cancer, and inflammation.
3. Recent studies have also indicated that nut consumption can help prevent type 2 diabetes.
4. A study of Seventh-Day Adventists (a religious denomination that emphasizes healthy living and a vegetarian diet) found that those who ate nuts at least 5 times per week gained, on average, an extra two years of life expectancy.
5. The nut eaters also experienced a 50% reduction in heart disease risk.
6. Another large-scale, 30-year long study found that people who regularly ate one ounce of nuts at least seven times per week were 20% less likely to die for any reason, compared to those who avoided nuts in their diet.
7. Many nuts have also been linked to lower rates of certain cancers. Studies done on walnuts, in particular, have found that they appear to be particularly protective against breast and prostate cancers. Walnuts and many other nuts contain a number of potent nutrients that can help fight cancer and boost overall health. These include ellagic acid, a phytochemical antioxidant, and gamma-tocopherol, a type of vitamin E – both of which have strong anti-inflammatory and cancer-protective effects.
8. A clinical study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research looked at what happened to men with erectile dysfunction who ate three to four handfuls of pistachios a day for three weeks. They experienced a significant improvement in blood flow through their private parts. The researchers concluded that three weeks of pistachios “resulted in a significant improvement in erectile function…without any side effects.”
To summarize, nuts are packed with healthy protein, fats, fiber, and other nutrients. They can help:
- Reduce heart disease rates
- Reduce gallstones
- Prevent type 2 diabetes
- Protect against certain cancers
- Boost overall health and improve longevity
Based on numerous studies, it appears that eating one to two ounces of nuts five days or more per week leads to tremendous health benefits.
You can enjoy nuts straight, with a sprinkling of salt, in a trail mix, in a nut loaf or casserole, blended into “nut milk,” added to smoothies, or prepared into nut “cheeses” or even pie crusts.
Eat by Date
If you’re going to keep nuts handy to reap their benefits, store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator to prevent their oils from going rancid. You can find out how long each type of nut lasts by viewing this chart on Eat By Date.
With walnuts, because of their high omega-3 fatty acid content, fresh nuts are best. You can get a nutcracker and crack them yourself. Or you can get them already shelled, in which case it’s best to either eat them soon after purchase or to store them in the refrigerator.
However you enjoy nuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and other nut varieties, they can make a great healthy snack to munch on at just about any time of the day.
There’s a special kind of nut you should know about. Baru nuts are well-known to Indigenous populations in remote parts of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia and are considered some of the healthiest nuts in the world. In comparison to other commonly found nuts, Barus have more micronutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, and are an efficient source of plant-based protein.
The folks over at Barùkas Nuts are creating a market for these nuts, and ensuring that they’re good for the planet and the livelihood of Indigenous peoples. To combat deforestation, and help Indigenous farmers make a living, Barùkas Nuts are paying a fair wage to Indigenous people who harvest these nuts in the wild, and they’re planting a tree for every five pounds of nuts sold.
If you’re looking for a healthy, ethical, and sustainable nut to try, or just want to try out a new (and fun) nut experience, head on over to Barùkas Nuts to find out more.
Please let us know in the comments below:
1. What are your favorite types of nuts?
2. What health benefits do you get from eating your favorite nuts?
Information on this site is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We encourage you to do your own research. Seek the advice of a medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle or diet.
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