5 'nuts' that you thought were nuts that are definitely not nuts

What Is a Nut?

The jig is up!

For too long peanuts have masqueraded as America's favorite nut.

For too long, almonds have snuck into the mixed nuts bag at your grocery.

We've been foolishly snacking on 'nuts' that are definitely not nuts, and it's time to set the record straight.

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Here are the five most common impostors:


peanut plant on sandy soil background in farm

Image: Getty

Most edible nuts, like pecans or hazelnuts, grow on trees. But peanuts grow in pods that mature underground and are classified as a legume, like lentils and peas.


Cashew fruit hanging on tree, close-up.

Image: Getty

Technically, nuts are a type of fruit. Fruits develop from a plant's ovary, and as the ovary matures it forms a wall around the fruit. For common fruits like apples and peaches, the ovary wall is the fleshy outer skin while for nuts the ovary wall is the hard, outer shell.

Cashews, on the other hand, are a seed of the cashew apple, shown here. The cashew seed is the c-shaped, greyish object at the bottom of the fruit.


English Walnut (Juglans regia) near Lawrence, Kansas.

Image: Getty

Walnuts are another seed masquerading as a nut. Their shells mature and harden inside of a fibrous, green husk, but it's common to extract the walnut prematurely for the English delicacy pickled walnuts.


Pistachios growing

Image: Getty

The desert plant called the pistachio tree is a member of the cashew family, and as we've mentioned before: cashews are not a nut. The food that we think of as a pistachio nut, is actually the seed of the pistachio tree, shown here.


Blooming is vernal.

Image: Getty

Almonds are the seed of the almond tree, which is native to the Middle East and South Asia and is famous for its gorgeous blossoms. In 1890, post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh dedicated an entire painting to the almond tree's beauty.

Makes you think twice about that container of mixed nuts.


Image: Associated Press

The traditional Planters mixed nuts contains the following:

-Peanuts (legume)

-Almonds (seed)

-Cashews (seed)

-Brazil nuts (seed)

-Hazelnuts (real nut!)

-Pecans (real nut!)

Just because most commercially marketed 'nuts' are not actually nuts doesn't mean they taste any less delicious!

So, next time you're snacking on some Planters — or your favorite brand — be sure to enjoy the seeds and legumes as well.

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