In a nutshell…

Posted on Oct 01 2016 in General
iStock / Getty Images Plus / Sumikophoto

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Sumikophoto

Not all “nuts” are the same. Did you know that peanuts technically aren’t nuts? They’re legumes.

Most legumes come in a pod and usually contain multiple fruit in a single pod. Nuts, on the other hand, come in a strong shell that doesn’t split open when they’re ready to be picked.

Plus, drupes make the distinction even more complicated. Almonds and walnuts are drupes because they have a pulpy outside texture with a hard inside shell that contains one seed.

Despite their differences, nuts, legumes and drupes are often underrated as healthy snacks. Almonds, cashews and walnuts, among others, have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health and even decrease a risk of cancer.

Walnuts and their rich omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation. Almonds contain lots of fiber. Cashews are rich in iron, zinc and magnesium, which can prevent anemia, improve your vision and prevent memory loss. Pecans lower your LDL cholesterol levels. And although macadamia nuts are dense in calories, they contain monounsaturated fat that lowers LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

However, nuts should, of course, be avoided in households when someone has a nut allergy. With people with these allergies, the immune system overreacts to proteins in these foods, causing an allergic reaction and histamines spreading throughout the body. Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies.

Nine nutty facts

  • Almonds can be refrigerated for up to two years because they are so rich in Vitamin E!
  • Cashews technically aren’t nuts; they’re fruits from the cashew tree — a large evergreen tree found in tropical climates!
  • Macadamia nuts are poisonous for dogs.
  • Cashews are sold out of the shell because the shell has the same itchy oil from poison ivy and poison sumac!
  • Americans spend almost $800 million per year on peanut butter.
  • Pistachios, spinach and kale are very similar. They all get their green color from chlorophyll.
  • Like peanuts, coconuts are another misnomer. They’re actually drupes!
  • Chocolate manufacturers buy 40 percent of the world’s almonds.
  • Five states — Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri, Oregon and Texas — have official state nuts.