We’ve known for quite some time that a peanut isn’t really a nut (it’s a legume), but turns out almonds have long been sneaking in to the mixed nuts too! In fact, almonds are nothing more than a seed for an almond tree, a medium sized tree that produces flowers and almond fruit.
But that’s not where the trickery ends: Although similar in that they have an oval shape, off-white flesh, thin, brown-hued skin, there are in fact two kinds of almonds: Sweet, which are the ones we eat, and bitter, which are used to make almond oil or Amaretto but are otherwise inedible. For our purposes today, we’re only going to be talking about the raw, edible kind.
Can you give me more explanation about nuts and seeds? I eat a ton of them and am always confused about which ones are actually nuts and which are seeds and which are legumes. Does it make any difference if you eat them whole, roasted, raw or as nut butter?
Thanks to reader Charlotte for these questions in response to last week’s “Get Primal” post. The classification question does get tricky.
Just like our beloved eggs (oh, what a nutritional ball of goodness), nuts are victimized by painful puns: Get Nutty! We’re Nuts about Nuts! You’re Nuts if You Don’t Eat Them!
We don’t do that here. Nuts are a Smart Fuel deserving of some smart words. Here’s why we think nuts are great for your health. Just don’t go…crazy…with the portions. (Whew – that was close!)
– Excellent fats that boost mental clarity, love your liver, and help your heart.
– Protein and fiber
– Selenium. This handy mineral activates an antioxidant called glutathione peroxidase. You don’t have to remember that, just know it’s really, really good at helping fight free radical oxidation in the body. Some studies suggest selenium might even help fight cancer.
– Antioxidant E and vitamin A. Since these are fat-soluble vitamins (meaning they only work with fat), nuts are nature’s perfectly engineered delivery systems.
The best nuts:
– Hazelnuts, filberts, walnuts, almonds
Less-nutritious (but sort of decent) nuts:
– Peanuts (not actually a nut), pine nuts, cashews
About an ounce a day is a reasonable portion size – think one small handful.
More Smart Fuel
[tags] fat soluble vitamins, antioxidants, peanuts, almonds, filberts, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, nutritional value of nuts, selenium, vitamin E, glutathione peroxidase, nut portion size recommendation, best nuts [/tags]