I used to be a real a-hole to peanuts, eagerly outing them as the legumes they are. Then I learned that botanically speaking, very few nuts are true nuts. Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, and pistachios are seeds, while walnuts, almonds and pecans are drupes. 

Why an almond would have more in common with a cherry than a pistachio is beyond me, but at least now the whole superfood claim makes sense. Yeah, almonds are a great snack, but they can also grow into a freaking tree. They’re energy and nutrition dense because they’re a few water-soaked days away from sprouting. So what’s in those little kernels that’s so good for us?

In general, nuts are a good source of quality fats, which can lower bad cholesterol, and are protein rich with a low glycemic index, which makes them particularly good for people (like me!) who need to keep an eye on their blood sugar levels. Also, each nut has its own set of health benefits to boot. My favorite nuts and their superpowers below:

Walnuts. Nearly twice the antioxidants as other nuts. Antioxidants may prevent cell damage; devotees will call this a cancer-fighting food.

Almonds. Contain vitamin E, which can protect against cognitive decline, along with riboflavin and L-carnitine.

Pecans. Rich in B3, a.k.a. Niacin, which helps us access the energy in our food, and is needed for healthy skin and hair, too.

Cashews. A good source of magnesium, which is as important as calcium for bones.

An important note: As far as allergies are concerned, all these kernels count as nuts, and as anyone who’s seen Freaks and Geeks will tell you, nut allergies are no joke. 

— Nut Doctor Kate Barnett

  • Tor


  • GapToothedGirl

    I’m a nuts addicted…that’s the day for my final confession!
    XOX, Gap.

  • BethanyBeach

    Poor Bill…

  • Natasha Jarmick

    Walnuts are my JAM.

  • Leandra Medine


    • Aubrey Green

      I think they’re only used to help you fall asleep. Don’t eat them ;).

      • Kate Barnett

        upvote times a million.

    • Kate Barnett

      you know this went up late bc my first draft was about the health benefits of ballsacks, right?

  • Aubrey Green

    You can make ‘cheese’ from Cashews, as well as Brazilnuts, which makes it non diary 🙂 – so, for someone who is lactose intolerant and avoids diary in general it’s a great alternative.

    I can’t digest raw peanuts. I can eat peanut butter, but almond butter, cashew butter, etc is better for you anyway.

  • Lucy

    Those 4.. That is nuts (I typed that before I realized it was going to be p(f)unny)…. I have eaten a baggie of exactly those 4 nuts almost every day for the last 4 years. NUTS!!!