Honestly, what are you doing with that dumb mouth of yours if you’re not making NUTS part of your everyday diet?

No one told me about nuts when I was a kid. I mean, nuts were around, I knew they existed, the way I knew that blueberries existed, even if I didn’t actually encounter one until I was in my late twenties. But back then, nuts were mere conduits to snack foods. Peanuts existed to make peanut butter; walnuts were for cookies, pecans were thrown on top of pies for some weird reason. A nut as its own end was a foreign concept for most of my childhood.

When I was in sixth grade, I hung out at my grandmother’s house after school and found that she actually ate peanuts – like, by themselves, as a snack. (Weird, I know – she grew up in the forties, and my history isn’t great but that leads me to believe she and her kin had to forage for sustenance.) She bought Planters dry roasted & salted variety. That salted coating drove me absolutely mental when I was twelve. I loved it so much that my favorite thing to do was open a fresh canister, lick my palm, turn the canister upside down in my hand, then lick that coated peanut salt right off, like a cat cleaning itself. Gross? Fuck you. Yes, but I was twelve and had yet to learn about such grownup concerns as germs and hypertension.

Another thing I didn’t know about? Serving sizes. After licking the salt off my palm – okay, reading it back I see how gross it is – I’d eat damn near a full canister of those addictive Planters in a single sitting while watching Jewel videos from grandmom’s recliner. (Honestly, I still can’t hear “You Were Meant For Me” without getting a stomachache, and I know that’s not Jewel’s fault.) Knowing what I know now, I can’t imagine how that recumbent twelve-year-old didn’t weigh six hundred pounds and shit pure salt.

Now that I’m grown and understand the place of “good fats” in a proper human diet, I’ve learned to channel my enthusiasm for nuts in ways that are both healthier and more exploratory. While I no longer LICK MY SALTY PALMS (good GOD was I ever a MONSTER!!) I also never let a day go by without a serving of fibrous, heart-healthy, cholesterol-curbing NUTS! And these are my top five favorites.

Rules and Exemptions

Only one type of nut qualifies as too obvious for this list, and that’s the peanut. Look, I still love peanuts (even if I still harbor some deep-seated, Jewel-adjacent childhood trauma regarding them) but so does pretty much everyone. They’re friendly to all diets, they’re the main ingredient in the world’s most popular spread, and there’s a free bowl of them on every bar I’ve ever seen on TV. Plus apparently they’re not even nuts but LEGUMES, wait WHAT?????

Also not on my list are walnuts. This will be controversial, since walnuts are arguably the healthiest nut on the market, with an Omega-3 value ten times that of pecans, but I simply haven’t found a pleasurable way to eat them. They don’t roast as well as other nuts, they have a weird texture, and they just look fucked up, like Rorschach vaginas. I’ll figure them out one day, but for now, these are my guys:

Almonds

For all those overnight yogis who decided peanuts were too pedestrian, our wise lizard god Zorp created almonds. What other nut could even compete on the nut butter market? What other nut would be willing to cover itself in chocolate and honey and raspberry glaze to get your attention?

Honestly, my relationship with almonds is an odd one. I never really feel like eating them, even though they satisfy me just fine when I finally do. I suppose they’re a bit bland compared to some of our other nut friends, but with all their cholesterol-regulating, bone-strengthening, antioxidant properties, I at least know I can always feel good about having eaten them. I like mine roasted without salt, for that satisfying crunch and nothing getting in the way of that warm, toasty flavor.

Hazelnuts

What on earth is up with hazelnuts? Lots of nuts have a tendency to regulate themselves into halves – it’s pretty much the only way pecans are sold – but how many roasted nuts actually resemble THE PLANET THEY WERE ROASTED ON when split in half? Seriously, that slightly burnt inner core of the hazelnut is probably my favorite part of any nut, so deep and rich it’s no wonder this delicious tree demon eventually whored itself out to the chocolate spread market to create Nutella, the deeply damaging brand that launched a hundred thousand insulin syringes. It’s cool that they’re a good source of oleic acid and vitamin E and a bunch of other shit, but honestly it’s not even about health benefits for me when it comes to hazelnuts. These bad bastards are just a good snack.

Brazil Nuts

Wildly underrated. Brazil nuts are the outcasts of the nut world, freakishly oversized and shaped like obese boomerangs. These characteristics alone can make any kid unpopular; add to these their unusual texture – how many tree nuts can be characterized as creamy? – and you’ll see why Brazil nuts just tend to make people uncomfortable.

I get it, but I love them. There’s something so unexpected about a Brazil nut – it’s crunchy yet why does it feel like Oreo filling against my teeth?? Not to mention its absurd amount of health benefits. Apparently it’s the world’s top source of selenium, which has antioxidant properties yada yada whatever, but of primary importance for a toxic worrywart like me is that selenium deficiencies are linked to anxiety, depression, and all sorts of Sad Bastard Syndromes. Brazil nuts also boost testosterone, so you’re penis won’t be depressed either!

Pistachios

Come on, how are these fuckers even legal? Pistachios are amazing because they seem to know how goddamn delicious they are. These obnoxious little shits come still in the shell because they know that we’ll do the work, we’ll get all that burning salt dust under our fingernails, we’ll ACTIVELY DEVELOP CALLUSES to get our chapped fingertips on just one of these wonderful sons of bitches. Honestly, the leading brand of commercial pistachios is called Wonderful® – what other nut would have the balls??

These guys are abundant in the vitamins and minerals we all expect from nuts, and are especially good for digestion, due to their fiber content. They’re also lower in calories and higher in protein than many nuts, which is said to promote healthy weight management, but that’s bullshit because science has shown that nobody who has ever started eating these devious things has been able to stop. [citation needed]

Cashews

Another legume, but fuck it, how good are these damn things? Sure, the cashew is another freak of the nut world, shaped like an apostrophe and carrying more calories per nut than any of the preceding, but it’s possibly the one nut where flavor and texture marry perfectly. Even a raw cashew will have a decent bit of crunch to it, and that bulky texture makes even a small serving – just sixteen nuts! – unexpectedly satisfying. You’ll also get a day’s worth of copper from just one serving, which is good for bones, iron absorption, melanin production, all kinds of shit. I figure if you’re sick to death of peanuts but find almonds boring, make the switch to cashews.

The point of all of this, doofuses, is diversify your nuts! You should be eating these bitches every damn day, so mix it up!

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