What is the Difference Between Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and Seeds

People frequently ponder whether sticking to just one or two preferred nuts or seeds will provide them health benefits. We’ll examine the difference between nuts and seeds and why eating a range of them is a good idea. Since nuts and seeds have different nutrient profiles, it is best to purchase an array rather than sticking with your go-to one or two choices.

What is a Nut?

So, what is considered a nut? The simplest biological definition of a nut is a seed enclosed in a hard shell. It doesn’t automatically open to release the seed when it reaches maturity. The term “nut” has a considerably broader culinary definition that includes several different edible plant parts. Many people understand it to be any edible kernel encased in a shell.

What is a Seed?

The component of a seed plant that can develop into a new plant is called a seed. It is a reproductive structure that spreads and has a long lifespan. A normal seed consists of three basic components: a seed coat, an embryo, and a source of nourishment for the embryo (endosperm).

Nuts We Commonly Mistake as Nuts

The beech tree produces beech mast, one of the nuts people mistake for seeds. Prickly four-lobed cases shield one or two triangular nuts, an important food source for voles, mice, squirrels, and birds.

The hornbeam tree also yields nuts that look like seeds. Female catkins mature into samaras, papery, green, winged fruits. Each leafy bract has a tiny nut at the base between 3 and 6 mm (0.11 and 0.24 inches) long.

Seeds We Commonly Mistake as Nuts

Although they are called peanuts, they are not nuts, at least not in the botanical sense. Similar to how peas and lentils grow underground, so do peanuts. It indicates that scientists categorize it as a legume rather than a nut. The word “pea” in the name reflects this.

According to the botanical definition, many items we consider nuts are seeds. Among the foods that fall under this category are:

  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Macadamias

These types of seeds are also called tree nuts.

What is the Difference Between Nuts and Seeds?

With many people confusing nuts with seeds, one would need to find the answer to this question; what is the difference between a nut and a seed? Let us look at some of the differences:

Nuts are dry fruits with edible kernels enclosed in a tough shell. The kernel and the seed within have fused.Seeds are fertilized ovules encased in a seed coat.
The fertilized ovaries found inside the pistil of a flower on a plant develop into nuts.Ovules become seeds after being fertilized by pollen grains.
Compared to seeds, nuts are greater in size.Comparatively speaking, seeds are smaller.
You can buy nuts in the market in various ways, including shelled, raw, roasted, salted, sugared, and dry roasted.In the market, you will find seeds in their raw and roasted forms.
Proteins, vitamins, minerals, and lipids are in almost all nuts.Proteins, vitamins (especially vitamin B), minerals, lipids, and dietary fiber are all abundant in seeds.

Is a Seed a Nut Technically?

One kind of seed that typically has a fairly hard shell is nuts. Legumes and grains are the other two categories of seeds. So, while all nuts are seeds, not all seeds are nuts.

The Different Types of Nuts and Seeds

Different nuts and seeds don’t always say or mean what they say. Did you know, for instance, that a peanut isn’t a nut? Because it grows underground in a pod rather than on a tree, it is a legume. Cashews are a form of seed rather than a nut, though they grow on trees. Think of peaches. Because it is merely a fruit accessory, the peach pit serves as the seed.

Knowing that it can be difficult to distinguish between the types of nuts and seeds at a glance, let’s learn more about them.

Brazilian Nuts

Brazil nuts come from the Brazil nut tree as seeds. They have a buttery flavor profile. Consume them either raw or blanched. 


Technically, the almond tree’s seeds are also known as almonds. Companies use them to make almond milk, almond flour, and even almond oil since they are sweeter but also quite hard. To add more crunch to your salad, finely chop them and spread them around.

Almonds also taste great on vegetable sides like green beans. You can candy this nut and use it to produce breading or crusts.



Gianduja, or Nutella’s most well-known component, is undoubtedly hazelnut. It is a kind of little, sweet, round nut that people use in cooking. You can crush hazelnuts and use them as a crust for seafood or baked products, just like cashews or almonds. They offer a great crunch to your dishes or desserts and have a very thin brown peel that falls off when you cook them.

Chia Seeds

Because of their health advantages, chia seeds are extremely popular. These tiny seeds are simple to incorporate into sweet and savory recipes and baked items. They are simple to sprinkle over veggies, cereal, or yogurt, whole or crushed. You can soak them in water and then add them to cooked cereal. For dessert, you can make a nutritious chia pudding.

Pumpkin Seeds

A quarter cup of pumpkin seeds provides up to 16% of your daily iron needs, making them an extremely nutritious and delicious snack. They are a great source of amino acids, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and amino acids. They also contain magnesium, zinc, and other minerals.

You may enjoy freshly roasted pumpkin seeds all year by sprinkling them on oatmeal or blending them into smoothies.

Pumpkin Seeds

Flax Seeds

Many nutrients are present in abundance in flax seeds. Additionally, there are larger concentrations of alpha-linolenic acid, a kind of omega-3 fatty acid. Consuming these seeds may improve cardiovascular health.

They include lignans as well, which can protect your body from cancer. It’s also quite simple to incorporate this seed into your diet. You can incorporate it into salads, muffins, smoothies, yogurt, soups, and cereal. You can use ground flax seeds instead of eggs. 


They are a type of legume that is extremely popular for meals, snacks, and peanut butter. Because they give a mild flavor with a wonderful texture and crunch, peanuts are also frequently used in Asian cooking and stir-fries. The somewhat sweeter taste of peanuts makes them a fantastic addition to many baked goods.

Sesame Seeds

They are tiny seeds that contain up to 20% of your daily necessary protein and fiber requirements. The amino acids methionine and tryptophan are in larger concentrations, and sesame seed oil is excellent on salads. Linoleic and Oleic acids can help decrease cholesterol.

Persons with nut allergies can use ground sesame seeds as a nut-free alternative to tahini as the major ingredient in hummus. When you sprinkle the seeds on salads or stir-fry foods, they get a lovely crunch.


Your walnuts will appear to be smaller chunks of peanut brittle from a distance. They also have lovely flowering trees, and this kind of seed has a rugged appearance. You can use these softer nuts, which have a small crunch when you bite into them, in place of pine nuts in pesto.

You can cut them and add them to slaws, salads, or baked items. They also go very well with various Asian meals like kung pao chicken.



One of the nut varieties on the list with the richest flavor is the pistachio, which has a distinctive and potent flavor. They are excellent for grinding up and used as a crust for seafood recipes. It also works great in sweets like pistachio ice cream, though. A brilliant green nut has light brown shells, which you should throw away before consuming the nut.

Nuts and Seeds are Good Sources of What?

Seeds are Rich in Protein and Fiber

Seeds and nuts have numerous health advantages. According to researchers, those who consume more nuts and seeds have a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and several malignancies.

Additionally, both contain fiber. Soluble fiber is indigestible and slows down digestion non-general, allowing fats and proteins to have longer-lasting filling effects. Furthermore, the insoluble fiber promotes efficient digestion by adsorbing possible carcinogens as the food moves through the digestive tract.

The seed coats of plants include phenolic compounds that act as defenses against pathogens so that seeds can survive and develop into plants. These strong antioxidants may help reduce inflammation and slow the progression of some malignancies when consumed.

These seeds are high in fiber. Additionally, these seeds provide at least 10% of the daily value for the following essential nutrients:

  • Flaxseeds: 0.3oz (7.5g) fiber, magnesium, omega-3, selenium
  • Sesame seeds: 0.14oz (3.5g) fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium
  • Chia seeds: 0.4oz (10g) fiber, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, omega-3, selenium
  • Sunflower seed: 0.1oz (2.5g) fiber, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, folate, omega-6

Each of these high-protein seeds contains at least 10% of the following additional nutrients:

  • Hemp seed: 0.36oz (9g) protein, iron, zinc, vitamin E, magnesium
  • Watermelon seed: 0.32oz (8g), iron, magnesium
  • Peanuts (a seed and legume): 0.28oz (7g) protein, magnesium
  • Pumpkin seed: 0.36oz (9g) protein, iron, magnesium

Nuts Have More Healthy Fat

In general, nuts have more heart-healthy fats than most seeds. Both polyunsaturated and healthy monounsaturated fats are in nuts. Even healthy omega-3 fats are present in some nuts, such as walnuts. In reality, nuts are the second-richest source of fat in our diet after cooking oils, typically containing about 50% fat by (edible) weight. 

It may be because of these beneficial oils and fat-soluble antioxidants like vitamins in nuts that link to both heart health and reduced inflammatory responses in the body.

These nuts stand out for providing at least 10% of the daily value of other significant nutrients:

  • Pecan: 0.42oz (12g) mono, 0.21oz (6g) poly, zinc
  • Pistachio: 0.24oz (7g) mono, 0.3oz (4g) poly
  • Almond: 0.3oz (9g) mono, 0.12 (3.5g) poly, magnesium, vitamin E
  • Cashew:  0.28oz (8g) mono, 0.07 (2g) poly, magnesium, zinc
  • Walnuts: 0.09oz (2.5g) mono, (0.46oz) 13g poly, magnesium
  • Hazelnuts: 0.46oz (13g) mono, 0.07oz (2g) poly, magnesium, vitamin E
  • Brazil: 0.24oz (7g) mono, 0.24oz (7g) poly, magnesium, zinc, vitamin E, selenium

What is a Seed Diet?

A diet high in seeds is a seed diet. Seeds are incredibly nutrient-dense despite their small size. They have a reputation for being nutrient powerhouses. You can regularly take them for a long list of health advantages. Seeds are incredibly adaptable, and you can use them in any meal due to their abundance of fiber, lipids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Numerous people choose to eat seeds for greater health as an understanding of their benefits grows. They can provide the energy you need to get through the day while assisting with weight loss.

Do Seeds Have Protein?

Unexpectedly, some seeds contain a lot of protein. Pumpkin, hemp, and watermelon seeds contain nutrients and offer more protein than most nuts, such as almonds and (the legume) peanuts.

Which is More Sustainable?

Although you may have heard that some nut crops require a lot of water to grow, sustainability has come a long way. Twenty years ago, California almond growers cut the water necessary to produce each almond by 33%. Furthermore, Californian pistachio farms now plant trees that produce 30% more nuts while utilizing the same amount of water as trees did thirty years ago.

However, when comparing total water consumption, seeds like pumpkin, watermelon, and sunflower often consume far less water than tree nuts. According to one study, just around 2% of the water that nuts consume is what watermelons and pumpkins need for their growth. 

Cashews are one of the nuts with the lowest water usage. In contrast, peanuts use roughly a third of the water they need to cultivate them. 

Another factor to consider is where nuts and seeds grow. Compared to nuts and seeds that people grow in the US, shipping from abroad can use more transportation resources. California produces more almonds and walnuts. 

North and South Dakota are both sunflower seed-producing states. Illinois cultivates pumpkin seeds, while Minnesota cultivates flaxseed. In conclusion, find out where your nuts and seeds come from. This information is usually on the container of most nuts.

The Final Say

So, what is the difference between a nut and a seed? You know the answer to this question. Choose some of the healthiest nuts and seeds from the list in this article. These kinds of nuts and seeds are beneficial additions to your diet. 

You may keep them in storage for several months before using them. They come in a variety of flavors that go well with a variety of foods or baked goods. However, you should experiment on your own to find the ones that suit your preferences the best.

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