The majority of people are aware that tree nuts include a wide range of nuts. But what distinguishes tree nuts from peanuts and what makes something a "tree" nut? Well, first of all, as you may have guessed, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios and cashews can all be found on trees. What distinguishes tree nuts from other tree-growing fruits, such as avocados or peaches, is that the outermost shell is very hard, and the meat inside is also hard or leathery.

You consume the outermost skin and the tasty meat that surrounds the seed in most fruits. Consider biting into a juicy plum - both the skin and the flesh are soft. You can't eat the outermost layer or the meat of a tree nut because it's too hard. Rather, you consume the seed itself. In addition, unlike a plum pit, which has an inedible covering encircling the seed, the seed in a nut has a thin, edible skin surrounding it.

Why is This Important?

  1. Tree nuts are not to be confused with peanuts, which are legumes.
  2. Many tree nuts are seeds of trees in the same family. For example, because walnuts and pecans are from the same tree nut family, people who are allergic to walnuts are more likely to also be allergic to pecans.

Tree nuts include:

The Difference Between Peanuts & Tree Nuts

Tree nuts and peanuts are very different because peanuts are legumes (beans) and tree nuts are fruit seeds. To be classified as a bean, it must be found in a pod and grow in the ground. Peas and lima beans are more closely linked to peanuts than tree nuts because they both grow in the ground. Finally, peanuts thrive in hotter climates, whereas nut trees require a lot of water and a cooler climate.

A peanut allergy makes a person more susceptible to allergies to soybeans, peas, and lentils. Many food manufacturers began adding pea protein in their recipes as a safe alternative to peanut protein as a result of the surge in peanut allergies in the United States. 

Tree Nuts Health Benefits

Nuts are a great source of nutrition and an important part of a well-balanced diet. Nuts are notorious for being high in fat and calories, yet this is one of the things that makes them nutritious! Monounsaturated fats, which are called "healthy fats," make up the majority of the fats in nuts. These fats are present in nature and do not pose the same health hazards as saturated and other fats found in processed meals. Nuts include monounsaturated fats, which can help decrease cholesterol, manage blood sugar, and supply other nutrients.

The high calorie content of various nuts is offset by the high protein content of each serving. At least four times a week, eat some nuts — one ounce or a small handful — to improve your health in a variety of ways. Here are some of the health benefits of nuts:

     Can reduce your risk of developing heart disease

     High in fiber and protein

     Can help you feel fuller longer

     Aids in weight loss

     Rich in antioxidants

     Contain valuable nutrients, such as magnesium, copper and vitamin E

Many popular diets include nuts as well. The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein diet that is designed to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. Nuts like walnuts and macadamia nuts are ideal for a keto diet because of their fatty nature. Nuts are also a major source of natural protein and lipids in the well-known paleo diet.

Nuts complement a variety of nutritional approaches, including raw food diets, veganism, and vegetarianism. The health benefits of including nuts into one's diet should be considered by anyone aiming to lose weight or simply maintain a healthy lifestyle.