One of America’s Favorites – Nuts

August 19, 2013 at 9:25 AM | Posted in nuts, One of America's Favorites | 1 Comment
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A nut is a fruit composed of a hard shell and a seed, where the hard-shelled fruit does not open to release the seed (indehiscent). So, while, Some common nutsin a culinary context, a wide variety of dried seeds are often called nuts, in a botanical context, only ones that include the indehiscent fruit are considered true nuts. The translation of “nut” in certain languages frequently requires paraphrases as the concept is ambiguous.
Most seeds come from fruits that naturally free themselves from the shell, unlike nuts such as hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns, which have hard shell walls and originate from a compound ovary. Culinary usage of the term is less restrictive, and some nuts as defined in food preparation, like almonds, pistachios and Brazil nuts, are not nuts in a botanical sense. Common usage of the term often refers to any hard-walled, edible kernel as a nut.

 

 

A nut in botany is a simple dry fruit with one seed (rarely two) in which the ovary wall becomes very hard (stony or woody) at maturity, and where the seed remains attached or fused with the ovary wall. Most nuts come from the pistils with inferior ovaries (see flower) and all are indehiscent (not opening at maturity). True nuts are produced, for example, by some plant families of the order Fagales.
Order Fagales:
* Family Juglandaceae
* Walnut (Juglans)
* Hickory, Pecan (Carya)
* Wingnut (Pterocarya)
* Family Fagaceae
* Beech (Fagus)
* Chestnut (Castanea)
*Oak (Quercus)
* Stone-oak (Lithocarpus)
* Tanoak (Notholithocarpus)
* Family Betulaceae
* Hazel, Filbert (Corylus)
* Hornbeam (Carpinus)
A small nut may be called a nutlet. Nutlet may refer to one of the following. In botany, this term specifically refers to a pyrena or pyrene, which is a seed covered by a stony layer, such as the kernel of a drupe. Walnuts and hickories (Juglandaceae) have fruits that are difficult to classify. They are considered to be nuts under some definitions, but are also referred to as drupaceous nuts. “Tryma” is a specialized term for hickory fruits.

 

 

A nut in cuisine is a much less restrictive category than a nut in botany, as the term is applied to many seeds that are not botanically true

Hazelnuts from the Common Hazel

Hazelnuts from the Common Hazel

nuts. Any large, oily kernels found within a shell and used in food are commonly called nuts.
Nuts are an important source of nutrients for both humans and wildlife. Because nuts generally have a high oil content, they are a highly prized food and energy source. A large number of seeds are edible by humans and used in cooking, eaten raw, sprouted, or roasted as a snack food, or pressed for oil that is used in cookery and cosmetics. Nuts (or seeds generally) are also a significant source of nutrition for wildlife. This is particularly true in temperate climates where animals such as jays and squirrels store acorns and other nuts during the autumn to keep from starving during the late autumn, all of winter, and early spring.
Nuts used for food, whether true nut or not, are among the most common food allergens.[3]
Some fruits and seeds that do not meet the botanical definition but are nuts in the culinary sense are:
* Almonds are the edible seeds of drupe fruits — the leathery “flesh” is removed at harvest.
* Brazil nut is the seed from a capsule.
* Candlenut (used for oil) is a seed.
* Cashew is the seed[4] of an accessory fruit.
* Chilean hazelnut or Gevuina
* Macadamia is a creamy white kernel of a follicle type fruit.
* Malabar chestnut
* Mongongo
* Peanut is a seed and from a legume type fruit (of the family Fabaceae).
* Pine nut is the seed of several species of pine (coniferous trees).
* Pistachio is the seed of a thin-shelled drupe.

 

 

Several epidemiological studies have revealed that people who consume nuts regularly are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease (CHD). Nuts were first linked to protection against CHD in 1993. Since then many clinical trials have found that consumption of various nuts such as almonds and walnuts can lower serum LDL cholesterol concentrations. Although nuts contain various substances thought to possess cardioprotective effects, scientists believe that their Omega 3 fatty acid profile is at least in part responsible for the hypolipidemic response observed in clinical trials.
In addition to possessing cardioprotective effects, nuts generally have a very low glycemic index (GI). Consequently, dietitians frequently recommend nuts be included in diets prescribed for patients with insulin resistance problems such as diabetes mellitus type 2.
One study found that people who eat nuts live two to three years longer than those who do not. However, this may be because people who eat nuts tend to eat less junk food.
Nuts contain the essential fatty acids linoleic and linolenic acids, and the fats in nuts for the most part are unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated fats. Nuts also provide Arginine, a substance that may help make the walls of the arteries more flexible and less prone to blockage from blood clot formation.
Many nuts are good sources of vitamins E and B2, and are rich in protein, folate, fiber, and essential minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.
Nuts are most healthy in their raw form. The reason is that up to 15% of the healthy oils that naturally occur in nuts are lost during the roasting process.
Raw or unroasted walnuts were found to have twice as many antioxidants as other nuts. Although initial studies suggested that antioxidants might promote health, later large clinical trials did not detect any benefit and suggested instead that excess supplementation of antioxidant supplements is harmful.

 

 

The nut of the horse-chestnut tree (Aesculus species, especially Aesculus hippocastanum), is called a conker in the British Isles. Conkers are

Chestnuts

Chestnuts

inedible because they contain toxic glucoside aesculin. They are used in a popular children’s game, known as conkers, where the nuts are threaded onto a strong cord and then each contestant attempts to break their opponent’s conker by hitting it with their own. Horse chestnuts are also popular slingshot ammunition.

 

 

Nuts, including the wild almond, prickly water lily, acorns, pistachio and water chestnut, were a major part of the human diet 780,000 years ago. Prehistoric humans developed an assortment of tools to crack open nuts during the Pleistocene period. Aesculus californica was eaten by the Native Americans of California during famines after the toxic constituents were leached out.

 

Nut of the Week – Cashew

January 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM | Posted in diabetes, diabetes friendly, nuts | 2 Comments
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The cashew is a tree in the family Anacardiaceae. Its English name derives from the Portuguese name for the fruit of the cashew tree, caju, which in turn derives from the indigenous Tupi name, acajú. Originally native to northern South America, it is now widely grown

Cashew tree

in tropical climates for its cashew seeds and cashew apples.

The tree is small and evergreen, growing to 10-12m (~32 ft) tall, with a short, often irregularly shaped trunk. The leaves are spirally arranged, leathery textured, elliptic to obovate, 4 to 22 cm long and 2 to 15 cm broad, with a smooth margin. The flowers are produced in a panicle or corymb up to 26 cm long, each flower small, pale green at first then turning reddish, with five slender, acute petals 7 to 15 mm long. The largest cashew tree in the world covers an area of about 7,500 square metres (81,000 sq ft).

The fruit of the cashew tree is an accessory fruit (sometimes called a pseudocarp or false fruit). What appears to be the fruit is an oval or pear-shaped structure that develops from the pedicel and the receptacle of the cashew flower. Called the cashew apple, better known in Central America as “marañón”, it ripens into a yellow and/or red structure about 5–11 cm long. It is edible, and has a strong “sweet” smell and a sweet taste. The pulp of the cashew apple is very juicy, but the skin is fragile, making it unsuitable for transport. In Latin America, a fruit drink is made from the cashew apple pulp which has a very refreshing taste and tropical flavor that can be described as having notes of mango, raw green pepper, and just a little hint of grapefruit-like citrus.

The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands to become the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, the cashew nut. Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the more well known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy. Properly roasting cashews destroys the toxin, but it must be done outdoors as the smoke (not unlike that from burning poison ivy) contains urushiol droplets which can cause severe, sometimes life-threatening, reactions by irritating the lungs. People who are allergic to cashew urushiols may also react to mango or pistachio which are also in the Anacardiaceae family. Some people are allergic to cashew nuts, but cashews are a less frequent allergen than nuts or peanuts.

The cashew nut is a popular snack, and its rich flavor means that it is often eaten on its own, lightly salted or sugared, or covered in chocolate.

Cashew is very commonly used in Indian cuisine. The nut can be used whole for garnishing sweets or curries, or ground into a paste that forms a base of sauces for curries (eg.Korma), or some sweets. It is also used in powdered form in the preparation of several Indian sweets and desserts. In Goan cuisine both roasted and raw kernels are used whole for making curries and sweets. The cashew

Cashew nuts, salted

apple is eaten raw or used in curries.

The cashew nut can also be harvested in its tender form, when the shell has not hardened and is green in color. The shell is soft and can be cut with a knife and the kernel extracted, but it is still corrosive at this stage, so gloves are required. The kernel can be soaked in turmeric water to get rid of the corrosive material before use. This is mostly found in Kerala cuisine, typically in avial, a dish that contains several vegetables, grated coconut, turmeric and green chilies.

Cashew nuts also appear in Thai cuisine and Chinese cuisine, generally in whole form.

In Malaysia, the young leaves are eaten raw in a salad or with Sambal belacan (shrimp paste with chili and lime).

In Brazil, the cashew fruit juice is popular all across the country.

In Panama, the cashew fruit is cooked with water and sugar for a prolonged period of time to make a sweet, brown, paste-like dessert called “dulce de marañón”. Marañón is one of the Spanish names for cashew.

In the Philippines, cashew is a known product of Antipolo, and is eaten with suman. Pampanga also has a sweet dessert called turrones de casuy which is cashew marzipan wrapped in white wafer.

In Indonesia, roasted and salted cashew nut is called kacang mete or kacang mede, while the cashew apple is called jambu monyet (literally means monkey rose apple).

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