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Nuts: Nutritional Powerhouses

Nuts come in a cornucopia of sizes, colors and flavors. But many of these healthy snacks have a secret: They're not technically nuts. Time to crack the mystery.

By Megan Bingham and Emily Smurthwaite

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Peanut
Getty Images
Getty Images
Peter Ardito
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Bryan McCay
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Peanuts

Discovered by conquistadors in South America, peanuts are a product of the New World. But that doesn't mean they grow on trees. Goobers, which are legumes, are raised underground and pack a hearty serving of protein.

Serving: 32 peanuts

Nutrition: 159 cal; 14g fat; 7g protein

Fresh idea: Toss into a stir-fry for extra crunch.

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Walnuts

Walnuts are the oldest tree fruit—that's right, fruit—known to man. Traded along the Silk Road for centuries, the meaty kernels arrived in the U.S. in the late 1700s. One handful boasts more antioxidants than other shelled snacks.

Serving: 14 walnut halves

Nutrition: 183 cal; 18g fat; 4g protein

Fresh idea: Sprinkle over mushroom soup for added earthiness.

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Pistachios

Legend has it that pistachio trees were planted in Nebuchadnezzar's famed gardens around 600 BC. While the green morsels have a royal past, they're actually seeds loaded with vitamin B6 (20% of your daily value per ounce).

Serving: 49 pistachios

Nutrition: 158 cal; 13g fat; 6g protein

Fresh idea: Roll goat cheese in chopped pistachios for a salad topping.

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Almonds

Botanically speaking, almonds are also a fruit, which explains why they're so good in sweets—just think about macaroons. In addition to flavor, one ounce supplies the same amount of polyphenols (health-promoting compounds) as a cup of green tea.

Serving: 22 almonds

Nutrition: 161 cal; 14g fat; 6g protein

Fresh idea: Slivered almonds are at home in a batch of granola.

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Long associated with trail mix and airplane flights, nuts are branching out. Here are some innovative products to put in your pantry.

Flavored Peanuts

Once you've tried these unconventional peanuts, like Mamma Mia or Cinnapplooza, dry-roasted won't taste the same.

$6, Lordnut.com

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Pecan Meal

Wanna have your cake and reduce carbs too? This gluten-free product boasts lots of protein and adds a nutty taste to baked goods.

$34 for 5-pound bag, Nutsonline.com

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Almond Butter

Say hello to a healthier PB&J. With fewer calories than the traditional spread, no-stir almond butter makes the transition as smooth as possible.

$9, Barneybutter.com

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Shell Out

Now you have an excuse to go squirrelly. This silver nutcracker, aptly named Davy Crackit, chomps his way through the toughest shells without so much as a squeak.

$14, Cheftools.com

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