Know Your Nuts
Technically the botanical term of a nut is a hard-shelled fruit, which does not open to release its seed. The word nut is widely used to refer to a vast range of hard fruits and seeds, from legumes to drupes.
We’ve been tricked into snacking on “nuts” that are actually not nuts, and it’s time to understand the difference.
Peanuts grow in pods that mature underground and are classified as a legume, like lentils and peas.
Cashews, on the other hand, are a seed of the cashew apple. The cashew seed is the c-shaped, greyish object at the bottom of the fruit and are classified as drupes.
Walnuts are drupes as well, masquerading as a nut. Their shells mature and harden inside of a fibrous, green husk.
Pistachios are a member of the cashew family and are not a nut. We think of the pistachio as a nut, but it is actually the seed of the pistachio tree.
Almonds are the seed of the almond tree, which is native to The Middle East and South Asia and are famous for its gorgeous blossoms.
Hazelnuts and Pecans are real nuts because they have a hard outer shell protecting a single seed that we would call the “nut,” and does not open on its own.
So, the next time you decide to snack on some “mixed nuts” be sure to know that you are enjoying seeds and legumes as well.
Nut allergies are also a common thing, especially with young children. Knowing the differences of nuts, drupes, and legumes can make all the difference in your diet.