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Types of Nuts

Nuts are everywhere - snack mixes, gift baskets, party trays, the subway. Trying to keep all of the types of straight in your mind - by color, shape, flavor, use, health benefits, etc. - can make a person, er, crazy. We've put together this glossary of the most popular kinds of edible nuts, along with some interesting and helpful facts!

Natural Tower of Nuts Gift Basket

Often found flaked or baked onto less-than-healthy desserts, the almond is actually a very beneficial food. The almond can be eaten raw or toasted, and is also used to create non-dairy beverages, almond oil, and other derivatives. Almonds are considered "heart-healthy" by the FDA as a rich source of protein and unsaturated fats. They also have a high fiber content - 4 grams per quarter-cup - that helps fight the development of diseases like colon cancer.

Brazil Nuts
Brazils aren't as common as some more familiar types, but they show up in mixed nuts and gift baskets with regularity. They're known for their rich flavor, with the highest saturated fat content than any other kind. Because of this, they're often pressed for oil, and on their own make a great source of protein. Just two Brazils provide the protein content of a whole egg.

A staple of snack mixes and football parties, the uniquely shaped cashew is widely used for its rich flavor that pairs well with both salt and sugar. It's considered to be lower in fat than others, but still rich in poly and monounsaturated fats. With zero cholesterol, they're considered a heart-healthy treat.

Whether you roast them over an open fire, boil them, or serve them with polenta, chestnuts are the perfect colder-season food. They're particularly low in calories, with less fat and more minerals and vitamins than other popular types. Use them for holiday cheer and as a great source of vitamin C.

Pecans have long been one of the most popular healthy nuts, both inside delicious pies and out. From a large tree in the hickory family, these rich, buttery nuts are rich in energy-supplying calories, as well as monounsaturated healthy fats that help lower cholesterol.

Pine Nuts
You may not even know that you like pine nuts, but if you've ever enjoyed a pesto, read on. These powerful little nuggets are found in sauces, desserts, and salads, and pack a lot of punch in a small package. Another great source of fatty acids and calories, pine nuts are gluten-free, making them common ingredients in dietary foods.

Hazelnut. So hot right now. It's in everyone's favorite breakfast spread, six-dollar flavored coffees, and all over gourmet desserts. These delicious nuts are more than trendy, though; they're healthy! Rich in oleic fatty acid, dietary fiber, and vitamins, hazelnuts are one of our favorites. Hazelnut butter is a delicious alternative to peanut butter, especially handy to those with allergies.

Kola Nuts
You may never have eaten a kola directly, but you've certainly tasted one. True to their name the kola is the inspiration for cola, the drink. These beverages were originally made with actual nut extract, a natural source of caffeine, but more recently are artificially flavored. Many West African cultures still chew nuts habitually.

Macadamia Nuts
Many people only know macadamians in association with white chocolate and cookies, but it's a valuable source of nutrition that shouldn't be overlooked. These zero-cholesterol nuts hail from Australia, and are rich in unsaturated fats and fiber. They're fantastic in many desserts, like cookies, cakes, and as an ice cream topping.

The nut that's as fun to crack as it is to eat has been getting a lot of publicity lately. These tasty treats landed on a TV doctor's favorite foods list, adding to the good PR pistachios get from the FDA. Billed as a "super-food," these healthy nuts are rich in the unsaturated fats and antioxidants you've come to expect. With tons of dietary fiber per serving, pistachios are often recommended to as a caloric substitute in a well-balanced diet.

Enter the walnut. Some research suggest that they're superior size and heft may not just be for show - they could be the healthiest nut in the land. With the same unsaturated fat power as its contemporaries, the walnut also manages to pack the highest number of antioxidants by weight. It doesn't hurt that they're also fun to crack, lovely as a stand-alone snack, member of a mix, or a dessert topping, and - most of all - delicious!


Wait. The rest of this list was alphabetical. Did we seriously forget peanuts? No, we saved them for last because peanuts are a legume. That's right, a bean! One of the world's most popular foods, the peanut has been hiding in plain sight for years. Luckily for us, this odd little legume actually carries most of the healthy properties of others. We don't have to tell you where to find these, but we can tell you they're similar to almonds - rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E, and more. Go nuts!

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