Which is healthier cashews or pistachios

Nuts, the healthy heralds of autumn

  • Chez Christina

    Christina Hubbeling

Nuts not only taste good, they are also extremely healthy. A handful of nuts a day, for example, is said to strengthen mental performance.

Are Coconuts Really Nuts? And what about almonds, do they also count as nuts, like hazelnuts, for example? One thing is certain: not everything that has a “nut” in its name is actually a nut. In the botanical sense, nuts are stone fruits in which all three layers of the pericarp become lignified. The best known representatives of the real nuts are the tree nuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts. The sweet chestnut is one of them. Cashew nuts, coconuts or nutmegs, on the other hand, are botanically speaking not nuts, despite their name, but seeds or stone kernels.

Real or not is irrelevant

In terms of culinary and nutritional aspects, on the other hand, it doesn't really matter whether what is commonly referred to as a nut is actually one. Almonds, pecans, cashews or pistachios, all of which are botanically not nuts, but are colloquially referred to as such, have similar positive properties as real nuts: They too can help to stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol and lower the risk to reduce certain types of cancer or to protect against heart attacks.

Nevertheless, nuts should only be eaten in a reasonable amount because they contain a lot of calories. The rule of thumb for the so-called sensible measure is: a handful of a maximum of 60 grams per day, preferably in the form of a mixture of hazelnuts, almonds and tree nuts, for example.

Due to their high content of unsaturated fatty acids, nuts spoil quickly. Unfortunately, it is hard to tell with the naked eye whether a nut is still good or not. But the matter is quickly resolved on the palate: If the nut tastes bitter or rancid, it should not be eaten, better even spit it out, as in this case it can even be harmful to health.

Unimagined benefits

Nuts can also be of interest to couples who want to have children: A Spanish study by the Human Nutrition Unit at the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, which was carried out with 119 healthy men aged 18–35 years, showed that men who consumed 60 grams per day Ate nuts, had 16 percent more sperm than men who did not consume nuts. The consumption of nuts in the test subjects also had an effect on the quality of the sperm: the nut eaters had four percent more live, healthy and six percent more mobile sperm.

From a culinary perspective, nuts taste best when they are roasted and sprinkled over salads, soups or other dishes as a "topping", for example. However, if the health aspects are in the foreground, the nuts should neither be roasted nor salted: Some of their valuable ingredients are lost when they are heated.

A message for the brain

The fact that tree nuts are visually reminiscent of a human brain can be understood as a message from nature: of all nuts, the tree nut not only contains the most alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) at 8 grams per 100 grams, but also has it via the amino acid arginine and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and vitamin E.

It also supplies our body with zinc, magnesium and potassium. This whole package of vitamins and minerals can have a positive effect on brain performance. Nuts are therefore an ideal snack during breaks, especially for schoolchildren and students.

What are nuts actually?

confusing name

The name often causes confusion: what is called a nut is botanically not a nut at all, but the core of a stone fruit.

Botanically real nuts

Walnut, beech nuts, sweet chestnuts, acorns, peanuts, hemp nuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, corozo (non-exhaustive list).

Local nuts

For ecological reasons, it is advisable to consume native nuts if possible. Various types of walnuts, hazelnuts and sweet chestnuts are native to Switzerland. Beech nuts and acorns are also found in abundance in our forests in autumn. But these two types of nuts are rarely eaten these days. In the past, a coffee substitute was made from roasted acorns. The generation of our grandparents and great-grandparents made a kind of grain or fruit coffee, which was colloquially known as «Muckefuck», especially in times of war.

Botanically loggerhead nuts

Cashew nut, tiger nut, coconut, kola nut, almond, nutmeg, Brazil nut, pistachio (list is not exhaustive).