Glossary of Nut Terms & Facts
The dietary components that provide calories: carbohydrate, protein and fat. Most foods contain a combination of these in varying amounts.
Macronutrient class that is naturally occurring in animal and plant based foods and includes: fatty acids, triglycerides (fats and oils), phospholipids and sterols. An important source of energy for the body, dietary fat that is not needed for immediate energy requirements is stored in the body as fat.
The basic component or "building block" of fats and oils. There are three classes of fatty acids: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. It is the combination of these fatty acids that gives each fat its specific characteristics and function in food and within the body. Fats and oils in foods contain all three fatty acids and classification is based on the one that is predominant.
A fatty acid that has no double bonds making it “saturated” or solid at room temperature. These are the predominant fatty acid in animal foods and hydrogenated oils. Dietary sources include meat, and animal derived products (e.g. dairy). Some saturated fats can raise blood cholesterol levels, therefore current dietary guidelines recommend limiting intake of saturated fat to less than 10% of daily calories.
A fatty acid that has one ("mono"-) double bond making it “unsaturated” or liquid at room temperature. These are the predominant fatty acid in some plant foods. Dietary sources include nuts and nut oils, avocado and some vegetable oils such as olive and canola. When eaten in place of saturated fats as part of a healthful diet, unsaturated fats help lower blood cholesterol levels.
A fatty acid that has more than one ("poly") double bond making it “unsaturated” or liquid at room temperature. These are the predominant fatty acid in some plant foods and fish. Sources include walnuts, fatty fish (e.g., salmon), and some vegetable oils (e.g., soy and sunflower) When eaten in place of saturated fats as part of a healthful diet, unsaturated fats help lower blood cholesterol levels.
An unsaturated fatty acid (either mono or poly) where the configuration of the double bond is changed through the addition of a hydrogen atom through a process called partial hydrogenation) to make shortenings and oils for use in baking, frying or cooking. The diet also contains naturally- occurring trans fats that are produced by ruminant animals, such as cattle and sheep, and found in foods made from these sources (e.g., meat and milk). Plant foods, including peanuts and tree nuts contain no trans fat.
Dietary Fiber (also called "Fiber")
The edible parts of plant foods or synthetic carbohydrate polymers that do not break down during digestion. Classified as complex carbohydrates, there are two types of dietary fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and is part of the structure of plants. Food sources include wheat bran, whole-grain cereals, breads and crackers, fruits and vegetables with their skins, nuts and seeds. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel. Food sources include oats, barley, psyllium (a cereal grain), legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils) and some fruits and vegetables.
Any of a large group of bioactives in plants that are believed to promote health. Examples are anthocyanidins (in berries, cherries and red grapes), resveratrol (in grapes and the skin of nuts) and flavonols (in onions, apples, tea and broccoli).
The "meaty," edible part of a seed found within the shell of a nut (e.g., pine nuts, aka pine kernels); also refers to a whole grain (e.g., kernel of wheat or corn).
A plant pod that opens into two parts, with the seed/seeds attached to one part. Food examples are peas, beans, lentils and peanuts (also called "ground" nuts). Although popularly used as a "nut," peanuts are technically classified as legumes.
50% less sodium per serving of a food than per serving of a comparison food.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
A specific type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. One example of an omega-3 fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in walnuts, flaxseed and certain vegetable oils (soybean and canola). Two other important omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in fatty fish and fish oils. The role of omega-3 fatty acids in health is an emerging area of research.
Nut or Tree Nut
An edible kernel or seed of a fruit enclosed in a woody or hard shell i.e., almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts. Most nuts are available in the shell or unshelled. Shelled nuts are sold in many forms, including blanched, smoked, dry-roasted, oil-roasted, candied, salted or flavored.
A nutritious seed from the pea family that grows underground and is sometimes referred to as a "groundnut." It has a thin brown skin covered with a thin tan pod and is classified as a legume.
Qualified Heart Health Claim for Nuts
Based on available epidemiologic and clinical evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following "qualified" health claim to be used on product labels that meet the requirements. "Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and some pine nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease." The statement: "See Nutrition Information for Fat Content" must be included near the claim.
Qualified Heart Health Claim for Walnuts
Based on available epidemiologic and clinical evidence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the following qualified health claim to be used on product labels that meet requirements. "Supportive but not conclusive research shows that eating 1.5 ounces per day of walnuts as part of a low saturated fat and low cholesterol diet and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. See Nutrition Information for fat [and calorie] content."
A polyphenol found in the skin of peanuts, as well as other foods such as red grapes, blueberries and pomegranates.
The edible ripened ovule of a vegetable or flowering plant. Examples are pumpkin and sunflower seeds.