Nuts vs Seeds: Difference and Comparison

Nuts and seeds are highly nutritious and contain vitamins, minerals,  healthy fats, and more. These are an essential part of our daily requirements and are thus recommended by nutritionists and dietitians.

Though there are not huge differences between nuts and seeds, one can be very confused between the two terms. Is an almond a nut or a seed? What’s a peanut, and what about pistachios?

These are neither nuts nor seeds.

Almonds and pistachios are drupes, while peanuts are legumes. What if I tell you that the Brazil nuts are not nuts but seeds?

Key Takeaways

  1. Nuts are a type of seed with a hard, woody outer shell, while seeds can refer to any embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering.
  2. Nuts are consumed as a snack or used in cooking, while seeds can be used for planting or consumption.
  3. Nuts are a good source of protein and healthy fats, while seeds are a good source of fiber and micronutrients.

Nuts vs Seeds

Nuts are a fruit composed of a hard outer shell enclosing an edible kernel; they are larger and have a higher fat content than seeds. Seeds are the reproductive part of a plant that is enclosed in a protective outer layer and have a lower fat content than nuts.

Nuts vs Seeds

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonNutsSeeds
DefinitionNuts are dry fruits with an edible kernel surrounded by a hard shell and have a seed fused with the kernel.Seeds are fertilized ovules surrounded by a seed coat.
FormationNuts are formed from the fertilized ovaries present inside the pistil of a flower in a plant.Seeds are formed from the ovules after fertilisation by pollen grains.
SizeNuts are larger in comparison with seeds.Seeds are comparatively smaller in size.
Available formsNuts are available in a variety of forms like shelled, raw, roasted, salted, sugared and dry roasted in the market. Seeds are mostly available in raw and roasted forms in the market.
NutrientsAlmost all nuts contain proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fats.Seeds are rich in proteins, vitamins (vitamin B particularly), minerals, fats and dietary fibres.
ExamplesHazelnuts, chestnuts, acorns, etc.Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, etc.

What is a Nut?

A nut is a seed in a hard shell which doesn’t open naturally. The main characteristic of a nut is the outermost stony fruit wall.

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Nuts are energy-rich and full of nutrients, making them costly in the market. They are good for the heart and a very good snacking option. It’s better than chips, soda, french fries, pizzas or junk food.

Nuts are high in oil content and contain unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fibres, vitamin E, and much more. We refer to almonds, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, brazil nuts, etc., as nuts though they aren’t.

Some examples of nuts are hazelnuts, chestnuts, and acorns. The nuts that you find the squirrels munching on are none other than acorns. 

We refer to the edible kernel when we talk of a nut. Small nuts may be called a nutlet, nucule, or pyrena, a seed covered by a stony layer.

Pistachios, almonds, and cashews are drupes. The fleshy three-layered exocarps protect the seeds within drupes. 

nut 1

What is a Seed?

A seed is that part of the plant which grows into a plant when sown. Seeds are ripened ovules and are produced in gymnosperms and angiosperms.

Gymnosperms are plants having naked seeds which are not contained inside any structure like the fruit, while angiosperms are true flowering plants, and thus the angiosperm seeds are produced in a fleshy structure called fruit. The seeds that we consume or see in our daily lives are angiosperm.

The angiosperm seeds consist of 3 main parts:

  1. The embryo

The embryo is the part formed from the zygote. The zygote is formed from the fusion of the egg cell and the male gamete.

  1. The endosperm

The endosperm is the triploid part. It is a food-storing part that nourishes the embryo within the seed. 

  1. The seed coat
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This is a protective covering formed from the tissue of the ovule and has two parts, the outer part is called the tests, and the inner part is called the tegmen. Seeds, when sown, grow into a plant, and thus seed dispersal becomes very important.

Wind, water, insects, animals, and humans disperse seeds. Some nutritious edible seeds that we consume are chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, hemp seeds, brazil nuts, pine nuts, etc.

seed 1

Main Differences Between Nuts and Seeds

  1. All nuts are seeds but cannot be nuts because every nut contains a seed. 
  2. The kernel, the edible part of the nut, is the fruit and the seed fused. Thus the seed and the fruit can’t be separated in a nut, while a seed can be separated from its fruit. 
  3. Nuts are larger with a stony hard shell, an edible kernel and a seed, while seeds are smaller.
  4. Nuts are matured or ripened ovaries, while seeds are ripened ovules. 
  5. Nuts have a characteristic stony hard wall, while an embryo, a seed coat and stored food characterize seeds. 
Difference Between Nuts and Seeds

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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