Nuts make a popular and healthy snack especially for those on the go. Two of the more popular nuts are cashews and peanuts.
Cashews and peanuts can be found by themselves or a part of a trail mix or snack mix; quite often you will even see them in a dish on a bar top at a pub or bar.
With cashews and peanuts, it may be difficult to know what the main differences are as they look quite a bit alike and have similar texture and flavor profiles.
So, what is the difference between cashews and peanuts? Cashews are a bit bigger, banana-shaped, and grow in an inedible shell, while peanuts are smaller with an edible shell. They are both highly nutritious and full of protein.
Keep reading to learn more about cashews and peanuts including their taste, texture, uses, and nutritional benefits as well as a final side-by-side comparison between the two nuts.
What Are Cashews?
Cashews come from the tree known as the anacardium occidentale, which is considered a tropical tree. Most cashew trees are grown in Brazil, India, Vietnam, Africa, and Southeast Asia.
This tree grows what is called a cashew apple, however, the cashews that we know do not come from this apple but instead grow inside a drupe right under the apple.
A drupe is a shell of sorts that protects the cashew. Once you crack open the drupe, the cashew comes right out.
The cashew is edible but the drupe it comes in is toxic for consumption and must be discarded.
You may be surprised to find out that cashews are not actually nuts. It is because the cashew comes in the drupe that it is not classified as a nut, but instead a drupe seed. However, cashews are classified as nuts so often that they basically fit within the category.
They get categorized as nuts often because they are used in a similar way to other nuts, like hazelnuts or chestnuts, and they have similar nutritional qualities.
What Do Cashews Look Like?
Cashews are small nuts, about 1 ½ inches in height and diameter that are shaped like a crescent moon or a kidney.
Raw cashews are a light pale cream color, whereas roasted cashews have a darker tan color.
Some cashews come flavored, and those will of course be colored differently depending on the spices and seasoning used to flavor them.
What Do Cashews Taste Like?
Cashews taste a lot like other nuts, therefore the taste can be categorized as rich, nutty, buttery, and almost creamy.
However, that is just for raw cashews and there are multiple different types of cashews on the market. You can get salted and unsalted raw cashews.
Roasted cashews still taste a bit nutty, but they have a deeper flavor to them from the roasting and taste almost a bit sweet compared to raw cashews.
There also are multiple brands that now make flavored cashews by including herbs and spices or sweet ingredients like honey. Some of the flavors include pomegranate vanilla, sriracha, jalapeno, chocolate, toffee, dill pickle, chili lime, etc.
As you can see, the options are endless.
What Is The Texture Of A Cashew?
The texture of a cashew is dependent on whether it is raw, roasted, or soaked in liquid.
The cashew feels smooth and hard to the touch. However, when bitten into, raw and roasted cashews are crunchy. Roasted cashews do tend to get a little crunchier in the roasting process.
However, oftentimes cashews are boiled or soaked in water so they can be easily digested or turned into a different food.
When they soak in a liquid, they become extremely soft and almost buttery when bitten into. This ability to change textures makes cashews an extremely versatile food.
What Do Cashews Smell Like?
I am sure you are wondering how cashews smell compared to other types of nuts.
Just like their taste, raw cashews smell nutty, rich, and buttery. When roasted, the smell of cashew simply intensifies and becomes even nuttier and more buttery.
However, the smell of a cashew can change if it is flavored with herbs and spices, like we previously mentioned.
Depending on how they are flavored, you can expect the cashew to smell sweet, savory, spicy, etc.
How Are Cashews Used?
There are many, many ways cashews can be used and consumed.
First, they make an excellent high protein snack by themselves on the go. You can also find them roasted in different types of trail mix and snack mixes. They can be found in many Asian recipes like Chinese cashew chicken.
Cashews can be made into cashew butter, which closely resembles peanut butter. There are many different varieties, including salted, unsalted, creamy, or crunchy.
In recent years, cashew milk has become extremely popular as well. You can even make it at home! Simply soak cashews in water and, once softened, blend them with some water, strain out any chunks, and you have delicious dairy-free milk.
Because cashews can become so malleable when soaked in water, they can be transformed into many different foods, both savory and sweet.
They have become a popular ingredient in vegan on plant-based diets, as they are a great source of protein and can be used for the bases of sauces that normally use milk and cheese.
For example, you can make queso, alfredo, or crema by mixing soaked cashews with other ingredients. Cashews also work great as a binding agent in recipes. They can be added to protein balls and meatballs, or even be used to create a crust for a dessert.
As you can see, cashews are extremely versatile and can be used in many different types of foods.
Cashew Nutritional Facts
Cashews offer many different health and nutritional benefits when added into your diet.
In just a 1 ounce serving, cashews offer 5 grams of protein, 12 grams of healthy fat (which help keep you fuller longer) and 1 gram of fiber.
Cashews are also full of minerals and vitamins like vitamin K, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and iron.
Specifically, in such a small serving cashews offer 20% of the daily value of magnesium, 15% of the daily value of zinc, 13% of the daily value of phosphorus, and 11% of the daily value of iron.
One of the better benefits linked to cashews is their high copper value, which not only helps with creating a strong immune system, but also encourages brain development and energy. In a 1 oz serving of cashews, there is 67% of the daily value of copper.
They also contain antioxidants, polyphenols, and carotenoids, which help reduce inflammation in the body, fight against free radicals which can be damaging to the body and fight off diseases.
Overall, cashews are an excellent and nutritious choice to add to your diet.
Are Cashews Easily Accessible?
Just because cashews grow in tropical areas does not mean they are inaccessible for the average person. Fortunately, cashews are now grown all over the world and can be found in both grocery stores and online.
All sorts of cashews, raw, roasted and flavored are available year around and at a very reasonable price compared to some other nuts.
Where nuts like pine nuts can run for about 2 dollars an ounce, cashews come in at over half that price with an average of about 50-60 cents an ounce.
What Are Peanuts?
Peanuts, scientifically known as Arachis hypogaea, grow from a ground plant that was originally found in South America.
They can go by multiple names including goobers, groundnut or earthnut.
They get these names because peanuts grow close to the ground of the plant they come from (even though the plants can get as tall as 18 ft). The peanuts grow so low they look almost like the root of the plant.
The peanuts grow in an edible shell, unlike the cashew, and the peanut itself is found on the inside. Though the shell is edible, it is only eaten in certain settings.
However, despite its misleading name, peanuts are not actually considered nuts but instead legumes (the family of beans and different seeds).
But, like cashews, many people consider peanuts to be nuts, as they have similar nutritional and culinary characteristics that make them fit well within the nut category.
What Do Peanuts Look Like?
Peanuts can be sold in 2 ways: with or without the shell, so the way they look can be described in two ways.
The outer shell is a few inches long and about 1 inch thick with crisscrossing ridges all around it. It is a light beige, almost camel color.
The inside peanut is a small circle with a point on one end. The outside of the peanut is a reddish-brown color that is almost like a skin on the peanut, and when split in half or bitten into, it is a dark beige color.
Like flavored cashews, flavored peanuts will have a different look depending on what is used to flavor them.
What Do Peanuts Taste Like?
Peanuts have a similar taste to other nuts and even cashews. Peanuts taste nutty, a bit earthy, and depending on how they are prepared, a bit salty.
Like other nuts, peanuts can come roasted, unroasted, salted, unsalted, and flavored. Like most things, the taste will depend on its preparation.
Unsalted peanuts will have a more bitter and earthy taste to them, where salted peanuts will have a similar taste, but with a saltiness to them. Roasted peanuts taste a bit richer and deeper in flavor.
Like cashews, peanuts can come in all sorts of flavors like dill pickle, ranch, honey roasted, and even pizza or salted caramel.
Each of these flavored varieties will have the signature earthy taste of a peanut, but with an overwhelming sense of the flavor that is used depending on the herbs and spices being used.
Flavored peanuts can be sweet or salty and savory depending on how they are flavored.
What Is The Texture Of A Peanut?
There are two different textures to peanuts, as there is an outside shell and an inside kernel.
The outside shell is soft, malleable, and a bit stringy when pulled apart. You can easily bite into it or rip it apart. And yes, people do eat peanut shells.
The inside kernel, or what we are familiar with as a peanut, is very hard and crunchy. It has a smooth outside, but is tough to break apart with just your fingers.
What Do Peanuts Smell Like?
Like cashews, peanuts smell pretty similar to other nuts. However, depending on if they are roasted or flavored, the smell can vary.
Unroasted peanuts smell mildly nutty and earthy, where roasted peanuts still smell nutty and earthy but with a buttery hint as well.
Flavored peanuts will smell like whatever they are flavored with. If you have dill pickle peanuts you can expect them to smell like vinegar and dill, whereas salted caramel peanuts will smell sweet and buttery.
The range of smell in peanuts is large and, again, dependent on what type of peanut you are consuming.
How Are Peanuts Used?
Peanuts can be used in many different ways. First, they can be eaten by themselves or, like cashews, in a trail mix or snack mix.
Many Asian recipes like peanut chicken, kung pao dishes, or Chinese chicken salad include peanuts for a bit of a crunch. Peanut oil is also extremely popular in cooking.
The most popular way peanuts are consumed is in the form of peanut butter. Peanut butter has taken over many desserts like cookies, candies and cakes. It is added to smoothies and oatmeal, and is consumed on toast or in a PB&J sandwich.
There are many different kinds of peanut butter: sweetened, unsweetened, salted, unsalted, crunchy, and creamy, so there is a peanut butter variety for everyone.
Like cashews and other nuts, peanuts also work well as binding agents in desserts and foods like protein balls or bars.
Peanut Nutritional Facts
Peanuts offer many different nutritional benefits when added to your diet.
Peanuts are high in protein offering about 8 grams of protein in a 1 ounce serving. They also contain high healthy fats, like omega 3 and omega 6, which are great for keeping you full and energized.
Peanuts have a plethora of vitamins and minerals including biotin, copper, folate, vitamin b, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Specifically, in a 1-ounce serving, peanuts offer 52% of the daily value of copper, 24% of the daily value of phosphorus, 27% of the daily value of magnesium, and 11% of the daily value of vitamin B.
Peanuts are also associated with helping assist in weight loss, heart health, and gallstone prevention due to the antioxidants they have to offer.
Are Peanuts Easily Accessible?
Peanuts are extremely accessible across the world, even though they originated in South America.
Compared to other nuts and products like cashews, peanuts tend to be the most affordable on the market at an average of about 12-15 cents per ounce!
Cashews Vs. Peanuts
Now that we have looked at cashews and peanuts separately, let’s compare the two nut like products to look at their similarities and differences:
Cashews Vs Peanuts Nutrition Comparison (Per 3 oz)
|Iron||5.7 mg||1.3 mg|
|Magnesium||248 mg||151 mg|
|Potassium||561 mg||539 mg|
|Thiamin (B1)||0.36 mg||0.13 mg|
|Niacin (B3)||0.9 mg||12 mg|
|Vitamin E||0.77 mg||4.2 mg|
|Vitamin K||29 ug||0 ug|
|Protein||15 g||21 g|
|Copper||1.9 mg||0.36 mg|
|Phosphorus||504 mg||309 mg|
|Zinc||4.98 mg||2.4 mg|
At first glance, cashews and peanuts are quite similar to one another. The calories are similar as are the sugar, protein, and potassium content. However, there are some major differences between the two.
Where we see the biggest difference is in the vitamins and minerals. Cashews have a higher content of iron, magnesium, potassium phosphorus and vitamin K.
However, peanuts have a higher content of niacin (B3,) Vitamin E, and protein.
As all of these vitamins and minerals perform different functions and provide different health benefits to an individual, it is up to the consumer to decide which one is best for them as there truly is no “better” option.
They have similar tastes and similar uses, so it is up to you to decide which one you find the best to add into your diet. And hey, why not both?
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