What is the difference between a seed and a nut? It doesn’t bother you until you stop to ponder it. Then you’re hooked. It’s like the age old debate: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The good news is there actually is a good answer to this question! But does that answer actually tell us what the difference really means to your skin when it comes to your cosmetics or skin care products?
All nuts are seeds, but not all seeds are nuts.
A Nut Is Both the Seed and the Fruit
Let’s start with fruit. Fruit helps to provide stability and protection for the seed from the outside world. It is the dispersal vehicle for the seeds of flowering plants.
A seed is a part of a flowering plant and is typically surrounded by the fruit. It contains the embryonic plant that will develop into a new individual. It has everything it needs to grow except soil and sunlight. The seed can be readily separated from the rest of the fruit. Think of an apple or pear or cherry.
A nut is both the seed and the fruit rolled into one inseparable combination. Nuts are types of fruit, located within a hard shell that encloses it. The shell is indehiscent (not separable) and doesn’t split open to release the seed when it’s ripe. Examples of true nuts are chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and walnuts.
True botanical nuts are not to be confused with culinary nuts, which have a much looser definition. Not all of your favorite “nuts” are true (botanical) nuts. (Confused yet?) What some consider to be culinary nuts may actually be either fruits, seeds, or in some cases actual botanical nuts.
Two categories of plants produce seeds that may also be considered to be nuts for culinary purposes: gymnosperms and angiosperms.
Seeds from the ancient family of gymnosperms, are not protected by an outer shell and are left exposed to the surrounding environment, so they are known as naked seeds. Some common types of gymnosperm seeds are ginkgo nuts and pine nuts.
In contrast, seeds of angiosperms are enclosed in what is called the fruit. They come from a plant ovary and any tissues that surround it. Some of the most recognizable angiosperms are Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, and soy nuts.
Health and Beauty Benefits of Nuts
The health and beauty benefits of both true nuts and those considered “nuts” for culinary purposes are well-known.
Walnuts are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Just a handful can boost vitamin B levels, which are responsible for boosting your skin health by keeping age related fine lines and wrinkles at bay.
Almonds are packed with essential fatty acids and protein. They also provide vitamin E, which helps to keep blood vessels dilated to keep the skin hydrated, and fights against problems like acne, eczema, and age spots.
Cashews are known for acne-fighting nutrients. They’re high in selenium which acts as an antioxidant with vitamin E helping to hydrate skin and reduce inflammation. Zinc promotes immune function for healing and cell growth to renew and replenish infected or damaged acne zones.
Pistachios’ antioxidants help to decrease acne growth by controlling blood sugar levels that circulate the acne-causing hormone androgen.
Brazil nuts are power-packed with omega-3 fatty acids and are a great source of selenium, which is responsible for improving skin’s elasticity and relieving inflammation like pimples and acne. It also reduces development of free radicals and keeps the skin hydrated.
So, What About Sciadonic Acid (SCA)?
Found in various gymnosperms like pine nuts, conifers, and cycads, sciadonic acid (SCA) is a fatty acid that is unusual in its structure and is showing very beneficial properties when it comes to calming inflammation within the skin.
Lipid chemist Alvin Berger, PhD, founded Sciadonics Inc. after spending decades researching the many anti-inflammatory properties of SCA. His research has confirmed the fatty acid’s anti-inflammatory properties, both as an ingestible and as a topical preparation. It’s led to the promising new oil DELTA-5®, which is derived from a specific conifer seed: the Mountain Cypress.
Anti-inflammatory Action of SCA
What makes SCA unique is the mode of action it takes. It works very early in the biochemical inflammation cascade to interrupt the role that certain inflammatory molecules play, competing for their place, so to speak.
Given the fact that peer-reviewed studies are showing it to be effective in fighting inflammation in skin cells, SciaEssentials® DELTA-5 (named for part of the fatty acid’s molecular structure) can be applied in a variety of situations, particularly as an aid to combat aging. Some suggested uses include:
- Skin restoration
- After facial peel
- Assisted healing of scars
- To reduce discomfort after tattooing
The simple formula contains only two ingredients: Mountain Cypress seed oil, and tocopherols. You can’t get much more basic than that. The gentle formula can be used by itself to spot treat problem areas, or can be combined with regular skin care products to enhance their effects by reducing inflammation.
Such a little seed can really pack a big punch!