Nuts, seeds, beans, pods, grains, legumes and all sorts have been a staple part of the human diet (and the diet of our animal kingdom friends) for as long as we have been around.
They bring a level of safety (with many having their own casing such as the peanut), they bring a level of nutrition (with some having high zinc and iron levels such as the cashew) and they bring a level of delicious satiation (with some having a sweet taste such as the almond).
So, it makes us want to know why these types of nuts can vary so much, if they’re all edible and what nut benefits can come about from the nutrition of nuts and seeds.
With that, the team here at The Hobby Kraze have been hard at work finding everything there is to know about these delicious snacks, no matter which is your favourite and how you like to have them. This article will touch on all the FAQs eating at your mind as well as bringing you the 20 most popular types of nuts you can eat today!
Have a look at what we’ll be covering:
- What Classes as a Nut?
- What is the Origin of Nuts?
- Are All Nuts Edible Nuts?
- What is the Difference Between the Types of Nuts and the Types of Seeds?
- What is the Nutrition of Nuts and Seeds?
- Do Nuts Ever Go Bad?
- What Are the 20 Most Popular Types of Nuts?
Here at The Hobby Kraze, we have a kraze for pretty much everything and that means the myth-busting facts, too. As you may know, there are lots of sayings about nuts that float around online communities (and in-person ones, too).
For example: people may say that the agriculture of nuts is bad for the environment because it takes up too much water. In reality, it doesn’t; it’s a very controlled and sustainable practice and you really don’t want to know how much water went into the production of just that one pair of jeans you’re wearing.
But the main myth we really want to tackle today is about nut allergies. There are various types that you should be aware of. And the real myth out there says that if someone is allergic to one nut, they’re allergic to them all. This is not the case. Someone can be allergic to one specific nut, a category of nut (i.e., tree nuts) and a few unlucky people may be allergic to the majority of them. The only way to know for sure would be to head over to your GP for a skin-prick test.
Now you know you’re safe for at least a couple of these delicious snacks of nature, we can continue with our fact file on the various types of nuts and their traits.
What Classes as a Nut?
First on the list is looking at what makes a nut. There are mix-ups and misconceptions about exactly what classifies as a nut and some types of food that are classified as nuts but technically aren’t such as the peanut. Yes, we were just as surprised on this one. This is because it comes in its own casing and is actually a legume akin to lentils.
Moving on, a nut is defined by botanists, farmers and scientists alike as being a dried fruit or berry. They are a one-seeded fruit with a hard-shell encasement called a pericarp that hardens as it ages. This means that the older the nut gets, the less likely it is to open (which may or may not make sense from a germination standpoint but that’s for an entirely different article).
However, as you may have guessed with such as wide variety of nuts not being nuts and another variety of nuts being known as something else; botanists aren’t the only ones categorising here.
There are two different categories for the origin of nuts: the first is the botanical nut and the second is the culinary nut.
The culinary world has a much more wholesome and encompassing definition of a nut, simply naming it as any edible kernel that is surrounded by a shell. So, the peanut would be classed as a culinary nut but not a botanical nut and a chestnut is classed as both.
What is the Origin of Nuts?
There are two answers to this question and a wide range of branches within each answer, too.
Earlier we said there were two classifications of nuts; there are the botanical nuts and the culinary nuts. We’ll there is another way to classify a nut: whether they grow on trees or in the ground.
You may have heard of someone having a tree nut allergy and it doesn’t mean they’re allergic to one type of the edible nuts you can buy at your local shop. Instead, it means they could go into anaphylaxis from eating any nut that grows on a tree. However, they should be fine with the groundnuts like peanuts (not if they also have a peanut allergy, that’d be unlucky).
Most nuts do grow on trees, though. Here is a list you can expect to find the origin of nuts with some of your favourites home to the UK, too:
- Alder Trees
- Horse Chestnut Trees
- Sweet Chestnut Trees
- Ash Trees
- Beech Trees
- Hornbeam Trees
- Hawthorn Trees
- Hazel Trees
- Holly Trees
- Lime Trees
- Oak Trees
- Rowan Trees
- Silver Birch Trees
- Sycamore Trees
- White Willow Trees
If you want to find out more about all the different types of trees you can find in the UK while out on your travels and which ones are growing delicious fruits, then check out the team’s article called “The Types of Trees in The British Woodland and Beyond”.
Are All Nuts Edible Nuts?
While we’d love to say yes, go out and enjoy frolicking through the British countryside snacking on as many of nature’s fruit that comes free to you, we can’t.
There are some tree nuts and groundnuts (which, don’t forget, are also botanical types of nuts and culinary types of nuts) that aren’t suitable for human consumption. However, most of them are after roasting or prepping in the kitchen.
In the same light, the answer to whether all nuts are edible nuts will vary depending on who we’re talking about. For us two-legged beings writing and reading this article, you’ll need to refer to the answer above. However, if you want to know if there are any edible nuts for your four-legged best buds at home, the answer is the opposite; most types of nuts are not safe with only a couple of exceptions like peanuts and chestnuts.
Back to us, though, nuts contain levels of toxins that can be harmful when eaten in excess, eaten without the proper preparation care or just eaten in general.
Take a look at which nuts you should have precaution over:
- Horse chestnuts should not be confused with sweet chestnuts. They look the same and come from the same family of tree. However, sweet chestnuts are edible nuts while horse chestnuts contain a toxin that causes vomiting and cramping.
- Pine nuts are a strange one. While they’re technically edible and are often a key ingredient in many healthy salads and dinners out there, there is a very strange bodily side effect that comes around after indulgence. It is called pine mouth and results in metallic tastes in the mouth 12 hours after eating.
- Bitter almonds, again, are not to be confused with sweet almonds. While sweet almonds are the nuts you can eat directly, bitter almonds are the ingredient to marzipan-rich tastes. However, it has acid in its body which results in breathing issues and disruptions to the nervous system when eaten directly.
- Cashews are actually poisonous (the same way as poison ivy) until roasted. While you’ve probably tucked into a late-night bag of cashew nuts in front of a late-night Netflix binge and knowing nut benefits, the origin of nuts is the catch; cashews are actually soft, green and poisonous until roasted.
What is the Difference Between the Types of Nuts and the Types of Seeds?
As we touched on earlier, there is a very big miss-mash of what’s classed as what. So, here’s a quick breakdown of nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, pods and beans knowing that – essentially – everything is a seed of something.
Nuts are the seeds of trees. Simply put, a nut is the hard-shelled fruit that grows on a tree. In reality, it’s the seed inside the hard-shell that we love to eat.
Seeds are the seeds of flowers. So, flowers and bushes that grow in the ground, such as a sunflower will have their way of germinating which is through their seeds.
Grains are the seeds of grass. Grass such as wheat and barley grow their own grains above-soil that we love to harvest for breads.
Legumes are the seeds of plant roots. Legumes are also a type of plant where the seeds grow underground. Examples include lentils and peanuts.
Pods are the seeds holding types of nuts. A pod is the encasement of the nut, meaning the nut is the seed of a pod which is a seed of a tree or plant.
Beans are the seeds of legumes. They are essentially the seeds of seeds. With legumes being the object growing from plants, what’s inside is called a bean.
What is the Nutrition of Nuts and Seeds?
The nutrition of nuts and seeds will vary between the types of nuts you choose to go for (or the types of nuts you actually can go for). For example, some nuts will have a high zinc and iron content while others will be protein based or carbohydrate based.
However, regardless of the varied nutritional content of edible nuts, one of the nut benefits is that they classify as a fruit and vegetable rather than as a carbohydrate.
But this doesn’t mean you can eat a lot in one go; almonds, for example, have 22g of carbohydrates per 100g of almond (that’s very high!).
Here are some more quick nut nutritional facts that also include some of the best nut benefits, too:
- They are a strong source of protein
- They have healthy fats
- They grow with lots of vitamins and minerals
- They have fats that are not absorbed
- They help to improve digestion
- They are highly satiating
- They can help regulate food intake
- They allow the body to burn energy
- They fight against heart disease with unsaturated fats
- They can be eaten in 30g portions every day
- They are high in an amino acid called arginine
- They keep blood vessels healthy
- They reduce body cholesterol
- They feature high amounts of fibre
- They are rich in antioxidants as phytochemicals
- They reduce the risk of diabetes
- They decrease the likelihood for heart disease
- They can be used to safely lose weight
As the nutrition of nuts and seeds will vary, it’s best to read the packaging of each of the types of nuts you’re looking to buy (even if it’s a cluster). This is because your goals may also affect the types of nuts you choose to eat in your diet.
For example, someone wanting to cut the kilos might want to add pistachios as they’re high in protein and satiating meaning the feeling of fullness lasts longer. As well as this, they’re known as the ‘happy nut’ in China because of the high iron content meaning iron deficiency is being combated and there’s no worry about eating other foods or supplements to balance.
Do Nuts Ever Go Bad?
Unfortunately, yes, much like any natural food (and, in fact, most processed foods), nuts do go bad eventually.
And, while they have a longer shelf life than many other foods out there, their levels of fats, proteins and minerals can end up going out-of-date and ‘off’.
With this it’s important to be able to know how to identify what ‘off’ nuts are. A quick note before considering the qualities of ‘off’ is that the proteins within the types of nuts allow for a quality consistency that lasts beyond their ‘best before’ date. They don’t have a ‘use by’ date as no moulds will grow.
When nuts go bad, they start to emit a rancid smell. Typically speaking, good and edible nuts will have a sweet and nutty smell whereas going into a bag or jar of nuts and being greeted by a chemical smell such as paint, nail varnish or plastic is a sign you should put them in the bin rather than your belly.
A second thing to look out for would be the taste; if you didn’t detect a bad smell, the taste should give something away. Much like the rancid smell of ‘off’ nuts being almost chemical, any bad types of nuts will have an immediate bitter and sour taste. At which point, it’s time to say goodbye to the rest of your nutty stash.
Now you know how to test to see if you’ll no longer see the nut benefits, we’ll let you in on some storage tips and tricks. For one, many people don’t look to the freezer for help, but any bulk buys of nuts can be placed in the freezer for up to 2 years depending on which nut you opt for.
Otherwise, the best ways to store your types of nuts include an air-tight jar or container and a safe place in the fridge.
What Are the 20 Most Popular Types of Nuts?
Now all the faff is out of the way, we can get onto the fun part: talking about the 20 most popular types of nuts, their nut benefits, their longevity and what they taste like (don’t worry, all of these are edible nuts).
Probably a strange one to see at the top of a list of edible nut types, the acorn is more than edible and a perfect tone for any coffee while being high in calcium. However, you’ll have to leach the acorns by shelling and repeatedly soaking to remove the toxic tannins.
Acorns last around 4 months in the cupboard, 4 months in the fridge and 1 year in the freezer.
A favourite for the team here at The Hobby Kraze is the almond. Both sweet almonds in a forest mixture and the bitter almond for the marzipan taste. They are tree nuts most commonly grown for us in California carrying high levels of protein and vitamins.
Almonds last around 10 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
Baru nuts are also known as Barukas nuts because of the branding that took them to America. And, while they’ve been a lesser-known nut (actually a legume), they’re been growing in popularity after being called the healthiest nut in the world with record protein, antioxidant, fibre and magnesium levels.
Baru nuts last around 1 year in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
With the origin of nuts being their namesake, these nuts are tree nuts that can be eaten raw or within a delicious salad. The best part is knowing they have good levels of calcium and iron and low levels of calories: making them a perfect ingredient for everything from milk and cheese to cookies.
Brazil nuts last around 9 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 1 year in the freezer.
Another one that’s bound to catch your attention is the cacao nut; yes, it is the origin of chocolate and, yes, it is also one of the least healthy of the nut family. Mostly grown in the Amazon, tropical areas of Asia and Western Africa, they are nuts often called beans and are bitter before milking into chocolate!
Cacao pods last around 6 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 1 year in the freezer.
As mentioned earlier, cashews are tree nuts that are actually harvested as green and soft types of nuts in need of a curing and oil-roasting period before being safe for consumption. However, when safe, they accompany Chinese cuisine rich in magnesium which helps with joint flexibility.
Cashews last around 8 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 1 year in the freezer.
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire with Jack Frost nipping at your toes”; these types of nuts make for the iconic smells and tastes of Wintertime. However, remember, for chestnuts to be edible nuts, they need to be sweet chestnuts and not horse chestnuts commonly found in conkers.
Chestnuts last around 2 weeks in the cupboard, 1 month in the fridge and 2 months in the freezer.
Yet another surprise on the list is the coconut (even though ‘nut’ is in the name!). They grow in the tropical regions of the world on palm trees and make for an antioxidant rich cuisine topper. From milks and yoghurts to desserts, raw snacks and oils, it’s a much-loved nut around the world.
Coconuts last around 4 months in the cupboard, 4 months in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.
When taken out of their hard shell, these nuts can range from a fluorescent yellow to a light green in colour. After removing the toxic (and smelly!) outer casing and thoroughly cooking, they are used as a high-protein addition to Asian cuisine tasting like mild cheese, potato and chestnut combined.
Ginkgo nuts last around 2 weeks in the cupboard, 1 month in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.
Commonly grown in America, Europe and Asia, these types of nuts have the nut benefits of being your source of your favourite chocolate and nut spread. Plus, they are rich in monosaturated oil and vitamins while being safe for consumption at any point and pretty much good for any dish or drink!
Hazelnuts last around 5 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 1 year in the freezer.
With a noticeably smooth and buttery texture and a calmingly sweet taste, the hickory nut is becoming more and more popular despite being a difficult find in the local store. They are high in fibre as well as the Omega-complex vitamins making them great for your belly and your skin.
Hickory nuts last around 1 year in the cupboard, 2 years in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
Very commonly seen in your morning muesli, these tree nuts are a slow-grow from warm areas like Hawaii and Australia. However, as a good source of few calories as well as high iron, vitamin A and protein levels, it makes for healthy satiation worth the wait.
Macadamia nuts last around 8 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
Back to our favourite not-nut nut, where the origin of nuts varies too much, it’s the peanut. Making the classic nutty spread it’s an accompaniment to everything from sandwiches to desserts. These legumes grow underground and need to be shelled before eating. P.S. they’re super high calorie!
Peanuts last around 8 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
These edible nuts are most prolific in the North and Central American regions. Interestingly, these types of nuts are tree nuts that are harvested just by shaking the tree and hoping for the best. Yet, when off the tree, they make for sweet and antioxidant-rich accents to salads and pies.
Pecans last around 6 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
With high levels of protein, potassium and phosphorous, these digestion-levelling nuts take the shape of the almond, the taste of sunflower seed and the snack method of the salted peanut, these little foods pack a punch with their origin story. They’re tree nuts growing at the foot of volcanoes!
Pili nuts last around 6 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 1 year in the freezer.
Ok, so, without forgetting about the pine mouth side-effect we talked about earlier, the pine nut is a healthy nut to have in your diet. This is because they have many of the B-complex vitamins (but also a high calorie count). You’ll generally find them in a forest mixture with origins in Europe.
Pine nuts last around 2 months in the cupboard, 4 months in the fridge and 6 months in the freezer.
Grown in temperate and desert areas like Western USA, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iran, the pistachio nut is high in vitamins, fibre and protein. And, while tree nuts, the trees are small in comparison to the average nut-growing tree. In terms of eating: roast them, cream them and even ice-cream them!
Pistachios last around 3 months in the cupboard, 3 months in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer.
Soy nuts are the nuts inside the pods called soybeans (yes, another nut known as one thing yet named another). They lower cholesterol, aid in weight loss and improve bone health because of their plant proteins and isoflavones. Often, they are ground into nut butter or made into soymilk products.
Soy nuts last around 2 years in the cupboard, 3 years in the fridge and 3 years in the freezer.
Having nothing to do with a specific so-called ‘king’, tiger nuts are small and wrinkly-looking snacking nuts from North Africa. They have a sweet earthy taste and chewy texture, strange for the average nut. Luckily, the nutrition of nuts and seeds for the tiger nuts includes prebiotic fibre for gut health.
Tiger nuts last around 1 year in the cupboard, 2 years in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
Finally in this top 20 types of nuts are the edible nuts known as walnuts. A common accompaniment to anything ‘coffee’, ‘cake’ or ‘salad’ related, they are a tree nut stemming from China. They have high-levels of Omega-3 and antioxidants as well as a post-wash sweetness perfect for garnishing dishes.
Walnuts last around 6 months in the cupboard, 1 year in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.
Well, that concludes this very nutty introduction to the world of nuts, not-really-nuts and those-ones-are-actually-nuts, nuts.
Again, nuts can be a very healthy snack to nibble on while you’re at work, watching the TV or just enjoying a bit of you time when out walking in the sun. But only in moderation. Plus, before we truly head-off, there’s another quick tip from the team here at The Hobby Kraze; there is a rise in the number of people finding out they have an allergic reaction to particular types of nuts.
So, if you ever get a little itchy, an upset stomach or simply want to be sure, then head to your GP for a fast finger-prick test. Then, you can be off snacking on the nutrition of nuts and seeds in no time (hopefully).
Here at The Hobby Kraze, we love to bring fun facts and informative posts about pretty much anything from hobbies and landmarks to sports and food. So, don’t forget to give this post a share and let the team know what you want to see next. In the meantime, have a look at some of our other foodie-favourites such as: “The 31 Types of Melon Around the World”.