Skip to Content

What Are Tree Nuts vs Peanuts? (Ground Nuts)

what are tree nuts vs peanuts

Yes, there are differences between tree nuts and peanuts and it can be difficult to decipher between the two. Luckily, we are here to help you understand what those differences are and how to look out for them.

The difference between tree nuts and peanuts is due to how they are grown.
  • Walnuts
  • cashews
  • almonds
  • pecans

These are all tree nuts and they are produced directly from trees.

Whereas peanuts are technically legumes; a seed that rests in a shell. 

Other examples of legumes include:

  • beans
  • lentils
  • peas

For yourself and others, it is important to know the differences between tree nuts and peanuts due to the commonality of nut allergies in the US.

We are going to help you understand why allergies between tree nuts and peanuts can be tricky to navigate.

Which Nut is Not a Tree Nut?

Which nut is not a tree nut

To define which nut isn’t a tree nut, we should define what nuts are tree nuts.

Tree nuts are a specific type of nut that comes from a tree.

Some examples of tree nuts include:
  • pistachios
  • macadamia nuts
  • pecans
  • cashews
  • pine nuts
  • almonds
  • hazelnuts

If you notice, a peanut is not on the list.

This is because a peanuts is a legume. A legume is a seed that grows within a pod.

Oftentimes when we buy peanuts, it is because they are already taken out of the shell. Whenever you have a mix of nuts that’s bought from the store, there is no shell around the peanut.

For example, if you are at a baseball game, you will most likely find peanuts within the “legume typical” shell still surrounding it.

Are Peanuts and Tree Nuts the Same?

Are peanuts and tree nuts the same

The bottom line is no; they are not the same thing. Often, the reason why many people group the two is because of allergies to tree nuts or peanuts.

Around one-third of people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to tree nuts.

Besides, peanuts and tree nuts look very similar. However, they are grown completely differently.

Also, the name “peanut” is very misleading. It is easy to think that a peanut is automatically a tree nut. It is important to remember that tree nuts come from trees and peanuts are grown in the ground. Peanuts use much less water to produce the same amount of most tree nuts.

Can You Be Allergic to Peanuts and Not Tree Nuts?

Can you be allergic to tree nuts and not peanuts

Yes, it is possible to be allergic to peanuts and not tree nuts.

It is suggested that most people that have a peanut allergy are not necessarily automatically allergic to tree nuts.

There have been studies done where people who have peanut allergies have ingested slight doses of tree nuts and show virtually no reaction to the tree nuts.

It is important to remember that it isn’t necessarily safe to go around trying different nuts if you have a severe allergy to one

Every year, mothers are giving birth to more and more children with peanut allergies. It is important to know if your child has an allergy or not. It is important to do allergy tests in a controlled environment if possible.

It is impossible to always know when peanuts or tree nuts haven’t been around one another.

There is always a chance that cross-contamination happens between peanuts and tree nuts because many companies produce and package them in the same facility.

For example, some brands create mixes of nuts within the same facility. There is a likelihood of cross-contamination and potential risks for an unexpected allergic reaction. 

What Kind of Nut Is a Peanut?

What kind of nut is a peanut

This is a common question and the answer to this is that a peanut is not a nut.

I know it may sound odd but it is a legume. Common legumes that may ring a bell are peas, beans, and lentils. 

The peanuts that we consume are below the surface of the ground.

Above ground, the peanut plant looks like an everyday plant. The plant has yellow flowers, leaves and an interesting feature called a peg.

A peg helps peanut plants regenerate and grow beneath the ground. A peg is the beginning step to peanut regeneration.

It is a common misconception that peanuts are a nut. Even though they are not technically tree nut, they still offer a variety of health benefits like tree nuts.

Peanuts have similar properties to tree nuts even though they are not technically in the same family.

Peanuts and tree nuts have healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These fats are great for heart health in preventing cardiovascular disease.

Although peanuts are not technically a nut, they are very similar in their shape and size to tree nuts. It is easy to get the two confused.

There can be many questions and topics surrounding tree nuts and peanuts.

Here is some additional information regarding tree nuts vs. peanuts.

Is it Possible to Be Allergic to Tree Nuts and Not Peanuts?

In a general sense, yes it is possible to be allergic to only tree nuts and peanuts.
However, this isn’t your sign to go ahead and try nuts that you have never had before. It is important to take precautions because trying a new type of nut could cause an unexpected allergic reaction. Besides, it is possible to develop new allergies to certain nuts later in life.

This graph shows that most people develop allergies to tree nuts and peanuts earlier in life, and that very few are diagnosed later on.

How do I Know If I am Allergic to Peanuts and/or Tree Nuts?

Often the symptoms of an allergic reaction to peanuts or tree nuts are very obvious.

Tree nut allergy symptoms can range from vomiting and stomach aches to shortness of breath. Peanut allergy symptoms are slightly different. These symptoms are more common with upper respiratory symptoms like a runny nose, throat tightening, and tingling nose or mouth. 

If you ever experience even slight symptoms when it comes to tree nuts or peanuts, it is important to contact a specialist and doctor. The doctor will most likely do one of two tests, either a skin test or a controlled food challenge test.

Are Tree Nuts or Peanuts Healthier to Eat?

It is a common misconception that nuts are unhealthy because of how many calories are found in just a handful of them.

Just because there are many calories, it doesn’t mean it is unhealthy.

Peanuts and tree nuts alike pack a healthy fat punch and are proven to have wonderful benefits when it comes to being rich in vitamins and heart-healthy goodness.

It was discovered that those all over the world who consumed peanuts or tree nuts more regularly, were generally less likely to die of any cause.

However, we now know that peanuts are legumes which are different than tree nuts.

Just because they are different, doesn’t necessarily mean they have different benefits. Dr. Meir Stampfer from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health explains this phenomenon. He explains,  “Botanically, peanuts are not nuts, but nutritionally they are very similar to tree nuts, and other studies have shown their benefits.”

Tree Nuts Vs. Peanuts, which is More Affordable?

When it comes to access to health benefits and protein-packed nuts, it can put a dent in your wallet.

As we discussed above, tree nuts and peanuts have very similar health benefits. They both have polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that reduce the risks of all kinds of diseases.

However, tree nuts like macadamia nuts, pistachios and cashews can drain your wallet quickly.

This is where peanuts come into play. Peanuts are protein-packed with all the health benefits of tree nuts but they won’t end up costing the same amount.

At the time of writing the price for a pound of peanuts doesn’t get much higher than 29 cents per pound.

Whereas, if we look up the price of the 3 most popular tree nuts, then the price per pound doesn’t go anywhere lower than $3.00 per pound. Overall, tree nuts are going to be the less affordable option when purchasing at your local grocery store

Even though peanut and tree nut prices can fluctuate with the changing seasons and world economy, tree nuts are always going to be more expensive.

Peanuts are a great source of protein, healthy fats and vitamins at a much more affordable cost.

This allows much broader access to nuts benefits, without breaking the bank.

So when be budget and health consciously aware when you next hit the grocery store for your bag of nuts.