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Cashew vs Walnut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Cashew
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Walnut

Introduction

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.

Classification 

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.

Appearance

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.

Growing conditions

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. 

Nutrition

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

Calories

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

Carbohydrates

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.

Vitamins

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. 

Minerals

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. 

Glycemic Index

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

Health Impact

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.

Cardiovascular Health

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).

Diabetes

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).

Cancer

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.

Summary

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. 

Sources

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16277792/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748761/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24500935/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6573847/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29927053/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6408729/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4560032/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5932493/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24734868/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875412/
Article author photo Razmik Sargsyan
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: May 30, 2021

Infographic

Cashew vs Walnut infographic
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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
Cashew
6
:
2
Walnut
Contains more Iron +129.6%
Contains more Potassium +49.7%
Contains more Magnesium +84.8%
Contains more Copper +38.4%
Contains more Zinc +87.1%
Contains more Phosphorus +71.4%
Contains more Calcium +164.9%
Contains less Sodium -83.3%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 251% 12% 59% 209% 732% 158% 255% 2%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 110% 30% 39% 113% 529% 85% 149% 1%
Contains more Iron +129.6%
Contains more Potassium +49.7%
Contains more Magnesium +84.8%
Contains more Copper +38.4%
Contains more Zinc +87.1%
Contains more Phosphorus +71.4%
Contains more Calcium +164.9%
Contains less Sodium -83.3%

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
Cashew
4
:
6
Walnut
Contains more Vitamin E +28.6%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +24%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +51.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +1163%
Contains more Vitamin C +160%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +158.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +28.8%
Contains more Folate +292%
Equal in Vitamin B3 - 1.125
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 2% 0% 19% 0% 106% 14% 20% 52% 97% 0% 86% 19%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 5% 2% 14% 0% 86% 35% 22% 35% 124% 0% 7% 74%
Contains more Vitamin E +28.6%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +24%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +51.6%
Contains more Vitamin K +1163%
Contains more Vitamin C +160%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +158.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +28.8%
Contains more Folate +292%
Equal in Vitamin B3 - 1.125

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

Summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfils human daily needs, the more the summary score is
Vitamin Summary Score
34
Cashew
33
Walnut
Mineral Summary Score
209
Cashew
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 the food
Protein
109%
Cashew
91%
Walnut
Carbohydrates
30%
Cashew
14%
Walnut
Fats
202%
Cashew
301%
Walnut

Comparison summary table

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

Which food is preferable in case of diets?

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

People also compare

Comparison summary

Which food contains less Sugars?
Walnut
Walnut contains less Sugars (difference - 3.3g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Walnut
Walnut contains less Sodium (difference - 10mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 1.657g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in glycemic index (difference - 25)
Which food is cheaper?
Cashew
Cashew is cheaper (difference - $2.5)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Cashew
Cashew is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be definitely stated which food is richer in vitamins. See charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

In the column "Opinion" we made some assumptions which could be controversial. For instance we are assuming that less saturated fats is good for you. Please ignore this column if you have your own opinion.We marked the nutrients, comparison of which we considered as not meaningful, as "N/A"
Nutrient Cashew Walnut Opinion
Calories 553 654 Walnut
Protein 18.22 15.23 Cashew
Fats 43.85 65.21 Walnut
Vitamin C 0.5 1.3 Walnut
Carbs 30.19 13.71 Cashew
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 6.68 2.91 Cashew
Calcium 37 98 Walnut
Potassium 660 441 Cashew
Magnesium 292 158 Cashew
Sugars 5.91 2.61 Walnut
Fiber 3.3 6.7 Walnut
Copper 2.195 1.586 Cashew
Zinc 5.78 3.09 Cashew
Starch 23.49 0.06 Cashew
Phosphorus 593 346 Cashew
Sodium 12 2 Walnut
Vitamin A 0 20 Walnut
Vitamin E 0.9 0.7 Cashew
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.423 0.341 Cashew
Vitamin B2 0.058 0.15 Walnut
Vitamin B3 1.062 1.125 Walnut
Vitamin B5 0.864 0.57 Cashew
Vitamin B6 0.417 0.537 Walnut
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 34.1 2.7 Cashew
Folate 25 98 Walnut
Trans Fat
Saturated Fat 7.783 6.126 Walnut
Monounsaturated Fat 23.797 8.933 Cashew
Polyunsaturated fat 7.845 47.174 Walnut
Tryptophan 0.287 0.17 Cashew
Threonine 0.688 0.596 Cashew
Isoleucine 0.789 0.625 Cashew
Leucine 1.472 1.17 Cashew
Lysine 0.928 0.424 Cashew
Methionine 0.362 0.236 Cashew
Phenylalanine 0.951 0.711 Cashew
Valine 1.094 0.753 Cashew
Histidine 0.456 0.391 Cashew
Fructose 0.05 0.09 Walnut

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 of the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Cashew - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170162/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.