Cashew vs Walnut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Even though walnut and cashew share the same clade e.g., Angiosperms, they may not seem so similar. Further we will discuss the differences and similarities of these nuts, concentrating on the nutrition and impact on health. Both nuts have been widely used for ages in traditional medicine. Unlike the cashew, walnut is distributed almost all around the world, hence it is more popular in traditional medical practices.
Walnut and cashew share the same clade: Angiosperms, but their families are different. Walnut belongs to the family Juglandaceae, genus Juglans while cashew belongs to the Anacardiaceae family, genus Ancaridium.
Talking about appearance, it is quite easy to distinguish one from another. Walnut occurs within shells, whereas cashews usually grow on so-called cashew fruits or cashew apples. Outside of the shell walnuts look like the human brain, hence the opinion that walnuts have a good impact on the brain, specifically on memory . Unlike walnuts, cashew nuts look more like yellowish beans. Before the cashews are ripe, they are distributed on cashew fruits, which may look like pears.
Taste and Use
Cashews have a creamy mild taste, whereas walnuts, if consumed with skin, have a bitter flavor. However the walnut itself tastes earthy and tart. Walnuts and cashews may be consumed raw, or mixed with salads and soups.
Cashews and walnuts grow in completely different conditions. Cashews originated from Northern Brazil, whereas the origin of walnuts is considered Southern Europe, Near China, the Himalaya. Nowadays walnuts are disturbed worldwide, which makes it one of the most accessible nuts in the world. The main exporter of walnuts is China.
Further in the article we are going to discuss nutritional aspects of Persian Walnut and Cashew. As it is quite obvious, both nuts contain a really small amount of water: 4.07 g for walnuts and 5.2 g for the cashews. Unlike the cashew, the walnut is covered with skin, which contains relatively high amounts of iodine
Walnut and cashew contain almost the same number of calories per 100 g, 654 kcal for the walnut, 553 for the cashew.
Proteins and fats
Both cashew and walnut are not really rich in proteins, and both of them contain about the same amount per 100 g, 15.2 g and 18.2 g respectively. In case of total fat walnut is slightly richer, with the number of 65.2 g per 100 g, compared to cashew, which contains 43.8 g of total fat. Talking about the polyunsaturated fat the ultimate winner is the walnut, with the number of 47,174 mg per 100g, which is about 10 times more than cashew.
Cashew contains double the amount of carbohydrates that walnut does, with 30.2 g per 100g. But the walnut contains slightly more total dietary fiber 6.7 g per 100g, whereas cashew contains only 3.3 g.
Both cashew and walnut are not rich in vitamins, both of them lack B-12 vitamins, but walnuts contain double the amount of vitamin C in the cashew, about 1.3 mg per 100g. In the case of Vitamin K cashew contains almost 15 times more than walnut, about 34.1 ug per 100g. Amount of vitamins contained in cashew and walnut per 100 g is below the suggested daily intake values.
Cashew and walnut are rich in minerals, however a deeper look reveals that walnut contains more calcium, 98 mg per 100 g, whereas cashew is richer in potassium (660 mg), magnesium (292 mg), copper(2.195mg) , zinc(5.79mg) and phosphorus(593 mg) per 100 g. They may differ by the amounts of minerals, but both of them can be considered as minimal sources of daily required minimum consumption.
In general, nuts usually stand as foods with low glycemic index. Glycemic index for cashew is estimated to be 25.
Weight Loss & Diets
Cashew and walnut are not considered as food with high calories. Theoretically, none of them would have a high impact on weight gain. Study performed in 2005 proves that daily walnut or cashew consumption does not significantly affect weight gain (1)(2). This interesting fact scientists connect with the low metabolic properties. Cashew and walnut can be freely used in low-carb diets, being foods with little amount of carbohydrates, moreover both of them can be used in Keto-diets, due to low content of carbohydrates and healthy fat.
Cashew and walnut are rich in micronutrients, dietary fiber, rich in energy, which does not highly affect weight gain. Studies performed in 2018 shows that daily intake of 43 gram walnuts for the period of eight weeks impacts positively on gut microbiota, enhancing the probiotics.
Daily intake of walnuts affects positively on many cardiovascular disease factors. Long term consumption of walnuts (43 – 85 gram per day) has been demonstrated to decrease the total and LDL-cholesterol concentration, decrease blood pressure, boost endothelial function, lower both oxidative stress and inflammatory functions. (3) Cashew nuts benefit the systolic and diastolic blood pressure without critical effects on other cardiometabolic factors (4).
Study performed in 2018 evaluated the impacts of walnut intake both in the healthy group and the group diagnosed with diabetes, results show that there is no evidence of impact on diabetes blood makers (5). Another group of scientists studied the impact of cashew nuts on patients with type 2 diabetes, and demonstrated that substituting 10 % of daily total calorie in take with cashews, decreases the serum insulin level, as well as LDL-C/HDL-C ration, which the author believes has a no negative impact on patients (6).
Walnuts were studied on having association with cancer, and the experiments have shown that walnuts do not have any effect in development or negatively affecting the cancer development risk, moreover the meta-analysis shows that walnuts are capable of decreasing the risk of cancer (7). However, there are no statistically significant studies that prove positive impact of cashew nuts on cancer development it is estimated that cashew nuts contain antioxidants, which can possibly have a good impact on reducing cancer risk (8)
Downsides and Risks
Talking about the positive impacts of cashew and walnut, it is also important to mention that some people develop food allergy on both of the nuts, however there are no significant studies regarding the cashew allergy rates, but even small amounts consumed may cause severe allergic reactions (9).
Walnut allergies are studied further. The studies estimate that about 3 – 34 % of the population in the USA has an allergy to walnuts, making it one of the most popular allergens (10). In both cases it is crucial to learn about the indemnification of the first allergy symptoms, not to delay the necessary help.
Walnuts are richer in calories, Vitamin C, Calcium, fiber and Vitamin A. Cashew may not contain as many calories as walnuts, but it is rich in the contents of microelements, like potassium, magnesium, iron. Walnut has a better positive impact on the cardiovascular system.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugars|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable in case of diets?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values