Origins & Information - (A-Z) Nuts

I was asked to help distinguish between nuts and legumes; I'm sure you have all heard that phrase that peanuts aren't nuts but legumes right? Right. So what is the difference? What makes a nut a nut? Interestingly enough, nuts are actually fruits! Nuts are hard-shelled fruits and are made up of both the seed and fruit. There are few that are considered "true nuts" as the scientific definition requires it to be a simple dry fruit with one seed, hard ovary, and fused seed and wall. However, in culinary circles, the term is more lenient and allows for non "true nuts" to be called nuts. Examples would be almonds, pecans, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, pine nuts, and pistachios. Who would have thought? At least they're healthy. Nuts contain essential fatty acids and help fight against coronary heart disease. They also have high oil content which equates to high energy!

A legume on the other hand is a plant or fruit of a plant in the Fabaceae family. It is commonly known as a pod when described shape-wise. Legumes that you may know of are peas, beans, lentils, soy, and peanuts. They are generally low in fat and cholesterol with high levels of potassium, folate, iron, and magnesium. Legumes are typically dried when bought bulk in store so must go through rehydrating processes before consumption. So biologically they differ from nuts and even look different. In the end, how much do the conditions matter though? A peanut not officially being a nut won't make people stop eating them with other nuts at all. The differences are scientific but not social.

This post is part of an A-Z series I am running for my blog category "Origins and Information" while I am in Vietnam with my family for July. Many of the posts in the series answer questions that were posed by friends/readers. If y'all enjoy the series, I will gladly run another in the future!