A pile of peanuts and cashews on a counter top. Peanut vs cashew

Peanut vs Cashew – And Which One is Low Fodmap?

Peanut vs cashew – what are the differences? And are they low fodmap? Hint, peanuts are low fodmap but cashews are high fodmap… ok so that was more than a hint. But read on to find out more and take a closer look at the distinct differences between peanuts vs cashews. 

First, if you have never heard of fodmaps, let me break it down for you real quick. The word fodmap is an acronym and stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. More common names for these are lactose, fructose, fructan, polyols, galactooligosaccharides (GOS). 

They are different types of sugars and carbohydrates that the organisms that make up our gut microbiome can FERMENT particularly quickly This process causes some gastrointestinal distress. 

So, if you are following the low fodmap diet, it is very important to know which foods are high fodmap and which foods are low fodmap. This is especially true when choosing between two nuts like peanuts and cashews. 

Low Fodmap Peanuts

According to the Monash University, peanuts have been tested as low fodmap in a serving of 32 nuts…. that is a lot of nuts! Peanut butter, on the other hand, has been tested as low fodmap in a serving of 2 tablespoons. 

Now, it is important to note that testing for fodmaps is actually very scientific. This is not a guess. According to Monash, testing consists of taking multiple samples of one food from different sources, stores, brands, etc. and homogynizing them together. 

This just means mixing extremely well to essentially make one sample. That sample is then tested for fodmaps using specialized equipment. 

Jar of peanut butter sitting next to a pile of peanuts and a piece of toast with peanut butter spread on it.

As you can see, this requires time, effort, etc. and not every food has been tested in every serving size. For both peanuts and peanut butter, the low fodmap serving sizes listed above are the only serving sizes that have been tested as of this writing. This means, that a larger serving MIGHT be low fodmap, but we do not know for sure. 

As products continue to be tested for fodmaps, the information becomes available to the public. So stay tuned as time goes on for more specifics on different servings sizes. 

High Fodmap Cashews

Raw cashews have been tested for fodmaps by Monash University in two different servings sizes – 10 nuts and 20 nuts. A serving size of 10 cashews is high in the GOS fodmap group. This serving size is also moderately high in the fructan fodmap group. 

Activated cashews have also been tested by Monash. What in the world are activated cashews you say? Good question.

This just means that the nuts have been soaked in water to stimulate the germination process. The thought here is that this process makes the nutrients more bioavailable which means we can digest, absorb and utilize them better. 

Activated cashews are slightly different than regular cashews as far as fodmap content goes. 10 activated cashews are low fodmap. 20 activated cashews are high in GOS (but not fructan like raw cashews are). 

The reason for the slightly different fodmap content between raw cashews and activated cashews is likely due to the soaking process. You see, fodmaps are water soluble. So any product that is soaked in liquid, canned, etc. usually has a lower fodmap content than it would otherwise because some of the fodmaps leech out into the liquid. 

Cashew butter is low fodmap in a serving size of 10 grams or less. This is about a 1/3 of an ounce… which is not that much. This is not surprising, however, since cashews themselves are on the higher fodmap side. 

Peanut vs Cashew – Other Differences

Interestingly, peanuts and cashews are often both categorized as nuts, but neither really are. Peanuts are actually a legume and do not grow on a tree. Cashews are more of a seed than a true nut but are still considered in the tree nuts category since they grow on a tree.  

How They Grow

Peanuts

As mentioned, peanuts are actually a legume and related to the soybean family. They grow in shells underground. 

Peanut plants can grow up to 18 inches tall and produce yellow blossoms (Virginia Carolinas Peanuts). As the plant matures, the blossoms produce “pegs” or stems, which start to lean downward toward the soil. The peanut will grow at the end of this peg and into the soil until it matures. 

Fresh peanut plants just harvested with peanuts in shells still attached to the plants.

Once harvested, they must be dried before use. Peanuts grow in warm climates including both North and South America and are a fairly easy crop to grow right in your own garden!

Cashews

Unlike peanuts, cashews do grow on trees but as mentioned, are less of a nut and more of a seed. Cashew trees grow whats called a cashew “apple” which looks similar to an apple, though it’s shape resembles more of a pear. The cashew apple is not a true fruit either and considered a “false” fruit. 

The cashew “seed” sprouts out of the bottom of the cashew apple. This cashew seed either ripens and falls off of the cashew apple or it can be harvested directly from the apple.

Cashew apples with cashew seed sprouting out the bottom of them.

One interesting fact about cashews is that their outer shell is actually toxic and needs to be removed before eating. This is why you see only shelled cashews for sale. 

Cashews are grown in many warmer, tropical parts of the world but are native to South America.

Nutritional Content of Peanuts vs Cashews

Peanuts

Peanuts are a great source of protein. This makes them a popular choice for a high protein, healthy snack in many plant-based diets. In about a quarter cup of proteins, you will get almost 10 grams of protein. 

Peanuts also have quite a high total fat content. Though there is some saturated fat in peanuts, the majority of the fat consists of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. These are considered the healthier fats and can promote heart health. 

This makes peanuts a healthy fat source that can protect against risk of heart disease, can lower cholesterol levels and regulate blood sugar levels.

Peanuts are a great source of copper, manganese, folate and phosphorus. They are also a decent source of magnesium, Vitamin E, thiamine and niacin (Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B3 respectively). 

Peanuts have a little over 3 grams of dietary fiber per 1/4 cup serving as well. While this may not seem like much, this is a decent amount for such a small serving of nuts. 

Cashews

Interestingly, cashews, while still a good source of protein, have slightly less protein than peanuts do. 1/4 cup of cashews has almost 6 grams of protein compared to the almost 10 grams in the same amount of peanuts. Still, they are a great option if you are looking to increase the protein content of your diet. 

Bowl of roasted cashews sitting on a table with some cashews on the table next to it.

On the other hand, cashews have slightly less fat content than peanuts do. Similar to peanuts, the majority of the fat content in cashews are the healthy unsaturated fats (monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids) vs saturated fat. So even though they have a little less fat overall than peanuts, cashews are still a great source of healthy fats. 

Since cashews have less overall fat, they also have fewer calories than peanuts. This may make them a better option for someone looking for weight loss. 

As for other nutrients, cashews are also a good source of magnesium, manganese and phosphorus like peanuts. They are not quite as high in Vitamin E and B Vitamins, but are quite a bit higher in copper than peanuts are. Cashews are somewhat higher in zinc than peanuts are as well. 

Cashews have slightly less fiber than peanuts do, coming in at only just over 1 gram per 1/4 cup serving. 

How To Include Peanuts and Cashews in Your Diet

Really, both of these tasty nuts provide similar health benefits and offer a lot of nutritional value. They are both great sources of nutrients and there really is not a “clear winner” in my book. It mostly comes down to personal preference and well, if you are following the low fodmap diet or not. 

A few different ways to include these delicious little nuggets in your diet include:

  • natural peanut butter or cashew butter on toast or in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (of course)
  • in trail mix or chex mix for an “on the go” snack
  • either butter can be used as a sauce base in a Thai style noodle dish
  • as a topping for salads, oatmeal or asian entrees like lettuce wraps or Kung Pao Chicken or mentioned Thai noodles
  • mixed into smoothies
  • homemade granola nut bars
  • charcuterie board with hard cheeses, salami, olives and a glass of wine!

Go nuts! The possibilities are endless. Pun intended. 

As always, thanks for reading!

Related Posts:

What Are Fodmaps?

43 Quick and Easy Low Fodmap Snack Ideas