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Almond vs Walnut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on April 23, 2021
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Almond
vs
Walnut

Summary

Walnuts are richer in calories, fats, and vitamins, while almonds contain more protein, carbohydrates, and minerals. Some vitamins walnuts contain more of are vitamins B1, B6, and B9. Almonds, in turn, are higher in calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.

Almonds and walnuts have numerous beneficial effects on health, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Introduction

Nuts add extra nutrition, crunch, and flavor to any meal they are added to. In this article, we will be discussing two prominent members of the culinary nut group - walnuts and almonds, mainly by comparing their nutritional values and impacts on health.

Classification

From a botanical viewpoint, walnuts and almonds are not true nuts but stone fruits, also known as drupes. However, they are considered to be culinary nuts, as they are used as such in the kitchen.

Walnut is the seed of trees belonging to the Juglans genus and the Juglandaceae family. This family is also known as the walnut family and includes other trees, such as pecan and hickory.

Almonds, also known as Prunus dulcis or Prunus amygdalus, are the edible seeds of trees which are part of the Amygdalus subgenus in the Prunus genus and the Rosaceae family. This genus includes a wide variety of other stone fruits, including apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries.

Taste and Use

The walnut seed has a mild earthy flavor, while its skin might taste bitter. Almonds also have a similar taste. However, the bitterness of almonds can be attributed to a compound found in them called amygdalin.

Like all nuts, peanuts and almonds can be used as snacks or as ingredients in various dishes, significantly improving the meal’s nutritional value.

Varieties

Based on the variety and cultivar of these nuts, the general characteristics and nutritional values can slightly differ from each other.

When discussing walnuts, most people talk about the Persian or the English walnut, also known as common walnut. Other less popularly used varieties include the black walnut, the Californian walnut, and the butternut.

The most commonly used varieties of almonds are Nonpareil, Sonora, Aldrich, Winters, and Carmel. The Nonpareil almond, living up to its name, is the most commercially used variety due to its thin shell that can be easily removed without impairing the seed within.

Nutrition

The nutritional values below are presented for raw almonds and English walnuts.

Macronutrients and Calories

Almonds are generally denser in nutrients as they contain only 50% water. At the same time, walnuts consist of 66% water.

One serving size of both of these nuts is equal to one ounce, weighing 28.35g. For almonds, this serving size makes for 23 whole kernels, while one ounce of walnuts is made up of 14 halves of the nut.

Calories

While walnuts and almonds are both very high in calories, walnuts contain 75 more calories per every 100g serving. One hundred gram servings of walnuts and almonds contain 654 and 579 calories, respectively.

Protein

Nuts are a great source of high-quality protein. Both of these nuts contain large levels of all essential amino acids; however, almonds are higher in almost all of them except methionine. Almonds are significantly richer in proteins overall.

Fats

Walnuts, on the other hand, are higher in fats. While greater quantities of polyunsaturated and saturated fats can be found in walnuts, almonds contain appreciably more monounsaturated fats.

Unlike almonds, walnuts are an incredible source of omega-3 fatty acids, containing 9g of alpha-linolenic acid in every hundred-gram serving.

Walnuts and almonds, being plant-based products, contain no cholesterol.

Carbohydrates

Almonds contain almost double the number of carbohydrates when compared to walnuts. Subsequently, almonds are significantly richer in dietary fiber and sugars.

The carbohydrate breakdown of walnuts and almonds is similar, high in dietary fiber. Sucrose is the predominant sugar found in both of these nuts. Other simple carbohydrates found in smaller quantities are glucose, fructose, and starch.

Additionally, almonds contain small amounts of maltose and galactose.

Vitamins

In general, walnuts have a more favorable vitamin profile.

Looking at the daily values of vitamins these nuts can provide, walnuts supply four times more Vitamin B6 and two times more vitamin B1 when compared to almonds. At the same time, almonds are significantly richer in Vitamin B2, containing almost eight times more of this vitamin. Vitamin B3 and vitamin E can also be found in almonds in larger amounts.

Walnuts are also notably higher in vitamin A, vitamin B5, and the folate form of vitamin B9. Moreover, walnuts contain vitamin C and vitamin K, which almonds lack entirely.

Walnuts and almonds do not contain vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Almond
3
:
7
Walnut
Contains more Vitamin E +3561.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +658.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +221.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +900%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +66.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +21%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +292%
Contains more Folate +122.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 1% 513% 0% 0% 52% 263% 68% 29% 32% 33% 0% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 2% 14% 0% 5% 86% 35% 22% 35% 124% 74% 0% 7%
Contains more Vitamin E +3561.4%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +658.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +221.6%
Contains more Vitamin A +900%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +66.3%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +21%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +292%
Contains more Folate +122.7%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%

Minerals

Almonds are the clear winner in this category, containing large amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, and choline.

The calcium content found in almonds is almost three times higher when compared to the calcium content of walnuts.

Walnuts, on the other hand, are richer in copper, manganese, and selenium.

While both of these nuts are low in sodium, almonds have a smaller amount of it.

These two nuts contain similar levels of zinc.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Almond
7
:
1
Walnut
Contains more Calcium +174.5%
Contains more Iron +27.5%
Contains more Magnesium +70.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +39%
Contains more Potassium +66.2%
Contains less Sodium -50%
Contains more Copper +53.8%
Equal in Zinc - 3.09
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 81% 140% 193% 207% 65% 1% 86% 344%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 30% 110% 113% 149% 39% 1% 85% 529%
Contains more Calcium +174.5%
Contains more Iron +27.5%
Contains more Magnesium +70.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +39%
Contains more Potassium +66.2%
Contains less Sodium -50%
Contains more Copper +53.8%
Equal in Zinc - 3.09

Glycemic Index

Almonds and walnuts are high in dietary fiber, fats and relatively low in sugars. Because of this, the consumption of these nuts does not significantly alter blood glucose levels.

Walnuts and almonds are both considered to have a glycemic index of 0 (1, 2).

You can visit this page if you want more information about how almonds affect blood glucose, insulin levels, and more.

Acidity

The pH value of raw English walnuts is equal to 5.42, making walnuts acidic (3).

Almonds, however, have a more neutral pH value of 7 (4).

We can also look at the acidity of these nuts by measuring the potential renal acid load or the PRAL value. This value portrays how much acid or base the given food produces inside the organism.

The PRAL values of walnuts and almonds are 5.6 and 2.3, respectively. This demonstrates that walnuts are more acid-producing.

Weight Loss & Diets

Like most nuts, almonds and walnuts are very high in calories. Nevertheless, these nuts can play an important role in a healthy diet, as they are rich in dietary fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

Almonds are the better choice between these two nuts for low-calorie and low-fat diets, while walnuts fit better into a low-carb diet.

Various studies have concluded that including walnuts or almonds in reduced-calorie diets leads to a more desirable and healthier weight loss compared to the same hypocaloric diets without these nuts (5, 6).

Regular consumption of nuts as a snack as a replacement for less healthful foods can also play a role in preventing obesity (7).

Health Impact

Health Benefits

In this section, we will look into what beneficial effects these nutritionally dense foods can have on health.

Cardiovascular Health

In research, walnuts have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by decreasing low-density lipoprotein (also known as “bad cholesterol”) and blood pressure, as well as decreasing oxidative stress and some markers of inflammation (8).

Daily consumption of fewer than two servings of almonds has been studied to prevent cardiovascular disease in the short term and potentially in the long term as well (9).

Overall, nut consumption has been vastly researched to have a significant positive effect on cardiovascular health, reducing incidences of coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac death and ameliorating risk factors by decreasing body weight and blood cholesterol (10).

Diabetes

Higher walnut consumption has been correlated with a decreased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially in women (11, 12).

If walnuts prevent the development of diabetes, almonds seem to be more effective at preventing its complications. Increased almond intake has been studied to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes (13, 14).

Cancer

Many varieties of nuts have been researched to reduce the risk of cancer by inhibiting cell multiplication and inducing the programmed death of cancer cells (15).

Due to several compounds found in walnuts, these nuts may potentially prevent or decrease the risk of breast, prostate, colon, and renal cancers (16).

Similarly, various studies show the potential of almonds to reduce the risk of breast, endometrial, pancreatic, colon, and colorectal cancers (17, 18, 19).

Downsides and Risks

Allergic Reactions

Tree nuts are one of the food allergens most often correlated with severe allergic reactions. While an allergy from peanuts is the most commonly occurring one, walnut and almond allergies, in rare cases, can also be life-threatening.

Symptoms of walnut and almond allergies are not different from other food allergies. These symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, oral allergy syndrome, and in rare cases, anaphylactic shock.

Almond allergy can present with cross-reactivity with walnuts (20).

Phytic Acid

Phytic acid is a compound that can be found in certain cereals, nuts, legumes, and oils. This substance binds to micronutrients, such as zinc and iron, preventing their absorption. Overusing foods high in phytic acid can lead to iron and zinc deficiencies, resulting in anemia, growth stagnation, and impaired immune functions.

Almonds tend to be higher in phytic acid when compared to walnuts (21).

Aflatoxins and Cancer Risk

Aflatoxins are a family of toxins that are carcinogenic for the liver tissue. These toxins are produced by fungi that can grow on diseased crops.

To avoid exposure to aflatoxins, discolored, moldy, and shriveled nuts should be discarded.

Sources.

  1. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/93/5/984/4597984
  2. https://www.ijmrhs.com/medical-research/dry-fruits-and-diabetes-mellitus.pdf
  3. https://www.webpal.org/SAFE/aaarecovery/2_food_storage/Processing/lacf-phs.htm
  4. http://www.nphsystem.guide/nut_seed_values.htm
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5715655/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4116579/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144111/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24500935/
  9. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-020-08642-4
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6220814/
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3738245/
  13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20580779/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5333560/
  15. https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/106/9/dju238/913017
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3952627/
  17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26183374/
  18. https://academic.oup.com/nutritionreviews/article/73/7/409/1942256
  19. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5840774/
  20. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6266711/
  21. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325021/
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: April 23, 2021

Infographic

Almond vs Walnut infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Almond Walnut
Lower in Sugar ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Lower in glycemic index Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Almond Walnut Opinion
Net carbs 9.05g 7.01g Almond
Protein 21.15g 15.23g Almond
Fats 49.93g 65.21g Walnut
Carbs 21.55g 13.71g Almond
Calories 579kcal 654kcal Walnut
Starch 0.72g 0.06g Almond
Fructose 0.11g 0.09g Almond
Sugar 4.35g 2.61g Walnut
Fiber 12.5g 6.7g Almond
Calcium 269mg 98mg Almond
Iron 3.71mg 2.91mg Almond
Magnesium 270mg 158mg Almond
Phosphorus 481mg 346mg Almond
Potassium 733mg 441mg Almond
Sodium 1mg 2mg Almond
Zinc 3.12mg 3.09mg Almond
Copper 1.031mg 1.586mg Walnut
Vitamin A 2IU 20IU Walnut
Vitamin E 25.63mg 0.7mg Almond
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 0mg 1.3mg Walnut
Vitamin B1 0.205mg 0.341mg Walnut
Vitamin B2 1.138mg 0.15mg Almond
Vitamin B3 3.618mg 1.125mg Almond
Vitamin B5 0.471mg 0.57mg Walnut
Vitamin B6 0.137mg 0.537mg Walnut
Folate 44µg 98µg Walnut
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K 0µg 2.7µg Walnut
Tryptophan 0.211mg 0.17mg Almond
Threonine 0.601mg 0.596mg Almond
Isoleucine 0.751mg 0.625mg Almond
Leucine 1.473mg 1.17mg Almond
Lysine 0.568mg 0.424mg Almond
Methionine 0.157mg 0.236mg Walnut
Phenylalanine 1.132mg 0.711mg Almond
Valine 0.855mg 0.753mg Almond
Histidine 0.539mg 0.391mg Almond
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0.015g g Walnut
Saturated Fat 3.802g 6.126g Almond
Monounsaturated Fat 31.551g 8.933g Almond
Polyunsaturated fat 12.329g 47.174g Walnut

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Almond Walnut
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
82
Almond
33
Walnut
Mineral Summary Score
139
Almond
131
Walnut

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
127%
Almond
91%
Walnut
Carbohydrates
22%
Almond
14%
Walnut
Fats
230%
Almond
301%
Walnut

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in Sugar (difference - 1.74g)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Walnut
Walnut is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Sodium?
Almond
Almond contains less Sodium (difference - 1mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Almond
Almond is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 2.324g)
Which food is cheaper?
Almond
Almond is cheaper (difference - $2.6)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Almond
Almond is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Almond - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170567/nutrients
  2. Walnut - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170187/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.