Nuts are one of our oldest foods and remains one of our best. In fact it was possibly nuts, along with berries and a few roots that were mankind’s first food. These are known as hunter-gatherers foods and were being utilized many centuries before wheat was ever grown as food. These remain a rich source of food and without them our diets would truly be deficient.
Each region usually is known for its particular kind of nuts and often is named for the country or region where they are grown:
Almonds, of the family family are native to SW Asia. Now they are enjoyed for their food value and are highly prized for their use in the baking and in candy making. Nutritionally they are a good source of protein, have a high fat content and are good sources of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. (B vitamins)They are high in calories as well. They are the source of marzipan, a candy concoction highly prized,especially in Europe.
These South American nuts are hard shelled and are sold worldwide. Actually the nut as we know it a seed that comes in a pod somewhat resembling a coconut. There are from 8-24 seeds in a pod. Supposedly, these tri-walled seeds are arranged in the pod somewhat like the lobes of an orange. In taste there is a resemblance to almonds or coconuts, or possibly a blending of the two. Nutritionally these oily nuts are a good source of protein,fat, calcium and iron.
Cashews are of the sumac family and native to Central and South America. This nut, being a relative of poison ivy and poison sumac is gathered with care. According to the encyclopedia, this two layered nut has a brown oil in-between the shells and will burn the skin if touched. This part of the nut is used as a lubricant and in the production of plastics. It is about equal in nutrition to the other nuts and likewise as high in calories.
Chestnuts are not as plentiful in North America as they once were. A fungus blight several years ago all but destroyed them. The trees, four different species of large trees with lance-shaped leaves are the vanished American chestnut, the European chestnut, the Chines chestnut and the Japanese chestnut. All varieties produce edible nuts.It is a rich source of protein, fat, carbohydrates, calcium and potassium.
Coconuts are grown on tropical palm trees. These large nuts may well be the largest of the edible nuts. Inside the hairy hard shelled nut is a white sweet meat that is somewhat sweet. This is most often sold shredded and sold in packages and used in various ways in the kitchen. In the cavity is a fluid that is known as coconut milk. This makes a good drink and can be used in cooking. The shells are used in many ways in manufacturing in ropes and as a carving material.Nutrition wise it has protein, carbohydrates fat, calcium and iron.
In the nut department there are Hazelnuts pecans, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. As a group and as snacks these excellent as snacks and as additives in cooking and in baking and in candy making.
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia
Taber’s Encyclopedia Medical Encyclopedia