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Nutty Facts: Nut-size bits and pieces of useful information.
Peanuts: Don't call them nuts
When you consider that the average American consumes 12 pounds of peanuts a year, it’s safe to assume that peanuts are one of our favorite nuts. Or is it? Actually the peanut isn’t a nut at all, but a legume (the fruit or seed of leguminous plants), which means it grows underground like a potato and is related to peas and beans.

Here are more little-known facts about the amazing peanut:
Astronaut Allan B. Shepard took peanuts on the Apollo moon mission.
Peanut butter is not just for kids. In fact, peanut butter was invented by an American doctor to provide a nutritious and easily digestible food for his elderly patients.
An Australian inventor has developed a vehicle fueled by peanut power.
The world record for eating 100 peanuts, one at a time, is 59.2 seconds.
Without peanuts there may never have been the Nobel Prize®. Its namesake, scientist Alfred Nobel, amassed a fortune over his lifetime, partly from the proceeds of his invention of dynamite. And since dynamite is made from nitroglycerine, which is made from glycerol, which is made from peanut oil, dynamite would not have come to pass without the protein-packed legume.

As our favorite “vegetable,” peanuts also offer important nutritional benefits:
Peanuts contain more protein than any other legume or nut. This is especially important for children, vegetarians and people who seek extra protein in their diets.
Peanuts contain mostly beneficial monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats as compared to saturated fats have been shown to help lower blood cholesterol levels.
One ounce, or one small handful of peanuts, contains 9% of your daily needed fiber (3 grams), 16% of your daily needed vitamin E and essential minerals such as magnesium, copper, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.

Source: peanutinstitute.org
Baking nuts don't only have to be used for baking! They are as versatile as they are delicious. Add nuts to a variety of meals.
Almonds: symbol of love and happiness
Throughout history, almonds have enjoyed religious and social significance. The early Romans showered newlyweds with almonds as a fertility charm, and almonds were honored as a symbol of good luck for centuries throughout southern Europe.  In the Americas, gifts of almonds represent happiness, romance, good health and fortune. Not to mention that foods featuring the light, sophisticated flavor of almonds are universally loved.

Almonds are not only packed with flavor, they also offer these nutritional benefits:
One ounce of almonds contains 12% of your daily allowance of protein and absolutely no cholesterol.
One ounce of almonds also gives you as much calcium as one-quarter cup of milk and 35% of your daily allowance of vitamin E, the valuable antioxidant with so many cancer-fighting qualities.
Most of the fat in almonds is monounsaturated, also known as the "good" fat.
This little nut is also loaded with minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, folic acid and zinc, as well as lots of healthy fiber.

Source: nutsforalmonds.com

Pecans: a tough nut to crack
Native to the South Central U.S. and Northern Mexico, pecans have been enjoyed for centuries by Native Americans for their delicious taste and nutrition. In fact, the name pecan comes from the Native American word “paccan,” meaning “a nut with a shell so hard it must be cracked with a stone.”

By the 1500s with the exploration and settlement of Texas, the popularity and demand for pecans had expanded dramatically with commercial productions beginning in the late 1800s. Today consumers enjoy more than 500 varieties of this elegant, flavorful nut as snacks and as ingredients in American and ethnic cuisine.

Did you know:
Pecans are high in fiber and low in carbohydrates.
Nineteen important vitamins and minerals can be found in the pecan.
New research shows that adding just a handful of pecans to your diet each day may help inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, which can help in preventing both artery build-up and coronary heart disease.* The researchers suggest that this positive effect was in part due to pecans’ significant content of vitamin E, a natural antioxidant.

*Source: August 2006 issue of Nutrition Research

Walnuts: old favorite, number 1 nut
As the oldest-known tree food eaten by man, walnuts are used today more than any other nut in America’s home-cooked recipes and restaurant dishes. Originating in ancient Persia about 7,000 B.C., walnuts were first traded along the Mediterranean by English merchant ships. This fact may be the reason for the misleading name English Walnuts, since walnuts were never produced in England commercially. Today California produces 70% of the world’s walnuts, thanks to some Franciscan fathers from Mexico and Spain who introduced the trees to the area in the late 1700s.

This appetite-curbing nut is a wonderful addition to any diet:
Walnuts are high in protein and antioxidants, and are known to help reduce LDL cholesterol.
This delicious nut is an excellent source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. In fact, one-quarter cup of walnuts provides 90.8% of the daily value. Omega-3 essential fatty acids offer potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection to the promotion of better cognitive function to anti-inflammatory benefits.
Walnuts contain an antioxidant compound called ellagic acid, which supports the immune system and appears to have several anticancer properties.

Source: whfoods.com

 

Cashews: come out of your shell

Even though we refer to the cashew today as a nut, it is actually a seed. Grown at the bottom of a delicate yet edible, pear-like fruit, cashews’ closest relatives include mangos and pistachios. And even though cashews are cultivated inside an extremely protective, honeycombed shell, they are the only “nut” marketed exclusively without their shells.

Originally spread from Brazil by Portuguese explorers, international trade of cashews began in the 1920s. Now grown all over the world, one cashew tree can produce approximately 200-300 cashews per year. Enjoy them roasted with salt, unsalted for use in cooking or as roasted and salted or honey-roasted which is perfect for snacking.

This sweet, delicate seed is filled with several nutritional benefits:
Cashews contain 5 grams of protein per ounce.
You’ll find high levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc and other essential minerals in cashews.
This tempting delicacy contains no cholesterol, and with such high levels of monounsaturated fatty acids, cashews can help support healthy levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

Source: organiccashewnuts.com

Pine Nuts: more than pesto perfect

A favorite in healthy Mediterranean diets, pine nuts are the hard-to-harvest seed of the umbrella-shaped Stone Pine tree, which has been cultivated for its “nuts” for over 6,000 years.

This versatile, torpedo-shaped kernel has been used for centuries in a variety of international cuisines, including Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Asian. In fact, its sweet flavor and delicate crunch continues to be used as the basis of great pestos, breads and pastries, or to add body, texture and flavor to favorite sauces, entrées and salads.

This hunger-fighting seed is an excellent source of protein, fiber, phosphorous, potassium, thiamine and vitamin B1.

 

 

Hazelnuts: just call me filbert

Everyone knows that the rich, indulgent flavor of hazelnuts pairs perfectly with chocolates and other sweets. However, this exotic nut has a secret – it’s packed with heart-healthy nutritional benefits as well!

According to an ancient manuscript found in China, the hazelnut took its place among the five sacred nourishments God bestowed on human beings. And in some cultures, hazelnuts were used to create medicines for a variety of ailments – from serious diseases to baldness!

Also known as filberts (since they ripen about the time of St. Philibert Day in late August), hazelnuts are either enjoyed as a delicious snack or as a confectionery ingredient. Approximately 70% of today’s hazelnuts are grown in Turkey, while almost all domestic hazelnuts are grown near Portland, Oregon.

Hazelnuts pack a nutritional punch:
Hazelnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, protein and fiber.
Hazelnuts are one of the highest natural sources of antioxidants.
Hazelnuts have one of the highest Proanthocyanidin (PAC) contents among all “superfoods” and the second highest among nuts.

Source: hazelnutcouncil.org

Sunflower Kernels: great things come in small package

Native to the Americas, sunflowers were cultivated for their seeds thousands of years ago in present-day Mexico, Arizona and New Mexico. Some archaeologists suggest that the sunflower may have been domesticated before corn. Seeds were ground into flour for cakes or bread, squeezed for their oil or cracked to eat as a snack. Nonfood uses included using sunflower seeds to make dye, medicines and grooming products for hair and skin.

As a wonderful source of the many vitamins, minerals, good fats and antioxidants, sunflower kernels are a nutritious snack choice and can also be used as a flavorful ingredient in cooking and baking. In fact, sunflower kernels are excellent sources of folate, vitamin E, selenium, iron and zinc.

Source: sunflowernsa.com

Macadamias: down under nut
Native to the rain forests of Queensland, Australia, macadamia nuts (sometimes called Queensland nuts) are named after botanist John Macadam who first described the tree’s genus. Though they are grown from Brazil to South Africa to Hawaii, Australia is the world’s largest grower of macadamia nuts, producing approximately 40,000 tons of in-shell nuts per year.

Did you know?
There are numerous species of macadamia nuts, however, only two are edible.
Macadamia nuts are often fed to Hyacinth Macaws in captivity. These large parrots are one of the few animals, aside from humans, capable of cracking and shelling the nut.
Macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs. So don’t feed them to Fido!
Macadamia trees are also grown as ornamental plants in subtropical regions for their glossy foliage and attractive flowers.
Macadamia nuts have the highest amount of beneficial monounsaturated fats of any nut.
They are also a source of protein, fiber, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.

Source: The Australian National University

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