You have probably heard that nuts and seeds among the list of healthy foods to incorporate into your diet and it is an important part of a good plant based diet. So I thought I would include a few things I have learned about them.
- First, the difference between nuts and seeds: All nuts are seeds but not all seeds are nuts! Botanically speaking, seeds are the small plant (embryonic plant) enclosed in the seed coat. Nuts are hard-shelled fruits of plants that protects the seed of the plant. Seeds can be separated from the fruit, like pumpkin seeds. Nuts are the fruit of the plant, such as pecans. Peanuts are not a nut or a seed, but a legume. Coconuts are also not part of the seed and nut category.
- Second,there are many nutritional benefits for seeds and nuts. They are a good source of protein, fiber and other vitamins. Studies have shown a decreased incidence of type 2 diabetes for those who regularly eat seeds and nuts, and may even promote weight loss.
- Third, you don’t need many nuts in your diet, since they are high in calories and fat (though it is the “good” kind of fat— alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid). Just a handful each day is a good amount.
Here is a good list of the best seeds and nuts from a blog from a cancer survivor. Nuts, like almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews, are a great snack to bring to work or keep handy. Seeds like chia, flax, sunflower and pumpkin, are great to add to smoothies, oatmeal, vegetable dishes, or salads.
Finally, there are many who have serious allergies to nuts and peanuts, and I have a close friend with this allergy. I was pleased to learn that for her, the allergy does not extend to seeds or to coconuts. Those with such allergies need to know the full range of problem foods, but for those who can eat seeds and coconut, they can be used in recipes instead of nuts.