What is so special about nuts! In reality nuts are one of natures original snacks. Nuts come in so many shapes and sizes however not all nuts can be treated equally. Many nuts, like almonds and walnuts, can be taken off the tree, their shells cracked open and to reveal the nut inside to be eaten. Conversely nuts like cashews, while also a tree nut are very toxic and not to be eaten straight from the tree.
For most of us, nuts are a wonderful source of healthy fats and proteins. They can be filling and make for a wonderful snack or lift a meal. Whether you eat them hot or cold, nuts are such a versatile food for those of us able to make the choice to eat them. Quite simply nuts are energy dense and nutrient rich foods.
A nut is defined as a fruit consisting of a hard external shell that protects the internal edible part. As reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO on 15 June 2002 from a study by the International Tree Nut Council (INC)) there was a significant improvement in health upon the regular consumption of tree nuts. This report referenced various clinical human trials and their outcomes and is worth a read. In short it found that of the 7 studies referenced, all showed that "the "nut diets" significantly reduced total cholesterol from 7-25% and low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 10-33%.
In the mid 1990's the INC started to fund and support studies into the nutritional benefits of nuts. The INC itself is an international, non-profit, non-governmental organisation that supports market research and promotional efforts throughout the world about nuts. Its Members represent 9 tree nuts, namely Almonds, Brazils, Cashews, Hazelnuts, Macadamias, Pecans, Pinenuts, Pistachios and Walnuts. Their mission is to expand global consumption of all tree nuts.
As compared to tree nuts, groundnuts, of which peanuts are the most widely known, are not in fact nuts. Peanuts are part of the legume family (think lentils). Groundnuts are said to have been part of the diet of Native Americans as well as European Settlers. Groundnuts can be treated in much the same way as you do potato's however often more nutritious. They also store well after being dug up and as such are a great addition to your diet in the colder months.
Last but not least is the coconut. This is an ingredient we use a lot of at Wattle Cafe and and unlike many countries, the US FDA has classified it as a tree nut. Given the properties of the Coconut plant, it is possible to classify this as a nut, although many countries do not. What is rare however are the occurrences of allergies from coconuts. Unlike peanut and tree nut allergies, instances of allergies to coconuts are very uncommon. In a report found in the US Library of National Medicine, National Institutes of Health, dated 29 September 2017 allergy to coconut is rare, not directly associated with nut allergy and few cases are reported so far in the literature.
Regardless of your pallet, within the nut world there are so many options available for consumption. Like us, we hope you get a chance to try as many as there are and enjoy the wonders of mother nature.