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Nuts vs. Legumes: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 22, 2023
"Nuts" are hard-shelled fruits with a single, large seed. "Legumes" refer to plants or seeds of the Fabaceae family, like peas or lentils.

Key Differences

"Nuts" are often recognized for their hard, inedible outer shell, and the nutritious, edible seed inside. This contrasts with "Legumes," which are plants that bear fruit in the form of pods enclosing the seeds, commonly known as peas, beans, or lentils.
In terms of nutritional content, "Nuts" are typically high in healthy fats, protein, and fiber, making them a filling snack option. Conversely, "Legumes" also offer a high-protein food choice but are lower in fat and higher in carbohydrates compared to nuts, often considered an essential source of protein in plant-based diets.
From a culinary perspective, "Nuts" are versatile, used in both sweet and savory dishes or eaten raw. "Legumes," however, are mostly used in savory dishes, from soups to stews, and often require cooking or soaking to be digestible, unlike nuts that can be consumed raw.
When considering their growth, "Nuts" usually come from trees or bushes, with each nut containing a single seed. In contrast, "Legumes" are the fruit or seed of leguminous plants (members of the plant family Fabaceae) and are grown in pods that can contain numerous seeds.
Economically, both "Nuts" and "Legumes" have significant roles. Nuts like almonds, cashews, and walnuts are important agricultural products in various regions. Legumes, on the other hand, contribute to sustainable agriculture due to their ability to fix nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Comparison Chart

Basic Definition

Hard-shelled fruits
Plants or seeds in the Fabaceae family

Nutritional Content

High in healthy fats and protein
Lower in fat, high in protein and carbs

Culinary Use

Eaten raw, used in sweet/savory dishes
Used in savory dishes, require cooking


From trees/bushes, single seed
Grown in pods, multiple seeds

Economic Impact

Important agricultural products
Contribute to sustainable agriculture

Nuts and Legumes Definitions


Hard-shelled fruits.
She cracked open the walnuts to reveal the Nuts inside.


Seeds of the Fabaceae family.
She added several types of Legumes to her shopping list.


High in healthy fats.
Eating Nuts can be part of a heart-healthy diet.


Used in savory dishes.
The stew was hearty and full of various Legumes.


Can be eaten raw.
He enjoyed snacking on raw Nuts.


Require cooking.
Before dinner, she started soaking the Legumes.


Used in various dishes.
The chef garnished the dish with finely chopped Nuts.


Beneficial for soil health.
Farmers rotate crops with Legumes to improve soil quality.


Despite their small size, Nuts are nutritionally dense.


High in protein.
Vegetarians often consume Legumes as a protein source.


Crazy or foolish.


A plant of the pea family.


Extremely enthusiastic
I'm nuts about opera.


A pod of such a plant, which splits into two valves with the seeds attached to one edge of the valves.


Used to express contempt, disappointment, or refusal.


Such a pod or seed used as food. Peas, beans, and lentils are legumes.


Plural of nut


Plural of legume


(poker) An unbeatable hand; the best poker hand available.
If the board is 237QA, all of spades, the nuts is 45 of spades.
If the board is 4444J, the nuts is any hand with an ace.


(colloquial) Insane, mad.
After living on the island alone for five years, he eventually went nuts.


Crazy, mad; unusually pleased or, alternatively, angered.
I just go nuts over her fantastic desserts.
The referee made a bad call against the home team and the crowd went nuts.


(colloquial) Very fond of (on) someone.
He's been nuts on her since the day they met.


Indicates annoyance, anger, or disappointment.
Nuts! They didn't even listen to what I had to say.


Signifies rejection of a proposal or idea, as in no way, or nothing doing; often followed by to.}}
They want me to pay $5 for a banana? Nuts to that!


Crazy; loony; insane; batty; - used in a predicate position, ususually in phrases such as to go nuts, went nuts, are you nuts?


An expression of disapproval, defiance, or displeasure, as in: "Ah, nuts! My knife just broke."


Informal or slang terms for mentally irregular;
It used to drive my husband balmy


Are "Nuts" high in calories?

Yes, they're calorie-dense, but they provide healthy fats.

Can "Legumes" cause digestive issues?

For some, legumes can cause gas or bloating; preparation methods can mitigate this.

Why are "Legumes" considered environmentally friendly crops?

They fix nitrogen in the soil, reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers.

Are "Legumes" good protein sources for vegetarians?

Absolutely, they're high in protein and other nutrients.

What are popular types of "Nuts"?

Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are a few examples.

Can "Legumes" be eaten raw?

No, they usually require cooking for safe consumption.

Can you eat "Nuts" raw?

Yes, most nuts can be eaten raw or roasted.

What are the health benefits of "Nuts"?

They're heart-healthy, high in fiber, and good for cholesterol levels.

How should "Nuts" be stored?

In a cool, dry place, sometimes refrigerated to maintain freshness.

Do "Legumes" need to be soaked?

Often, soaking legumes can reduce cooking time and improve digestibility.

Are "Nuts" keto-friendly?

Many are, thanks to their high-fat, low-carb profile.

Are "Nuts" safe for everyone?

No, nut allergies are common and can be severe.

Are "Legumes" suitable for all diets?

Mostly, yes, though some low-carb diets may limit them.

How do "Nuts" affect weight management?

They're satiating but calorie-dense, so moderation is key.

Are "Legumes" low in fat?

Generally, yes, they're lower in fat compared to many protein sources.

Are "Legumes" considered vegetables?

They're technically fruits but are commonly categorized as vegetables in dietary contexts.

Do "Legumes" contain gluten?

No, they're naturally gluten-free.

How do "Legumes" impact blood sugar?

They're low on the glycemic index, beneficial for blood sugar control.

Can "Nuts" go bad?

Yes, they can become rancid over time or when exposed to heat.

Do "Nuts" have omega-3 fatty acids?

Some, like walnuts, are good sources of omega-3s.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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