Pistachio vs. Cashew — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Cashews and pistachios have nearly the same amount of calories. Pistachio has slightly higher amounts of protein and fat than cashew. Cashews contain more saturated and monounsaturated fats compared to pistachios, which contain more polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6.
Cashews and pistachios are both categorized as low-glycemic-index foods.
Pistachios have a richer vitamin profile than cashews. Cashew is richer in sodium, manganese, selenium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. On the other hand, pistachio is richer in potassium and calcium.
It is important to consume them unsalted.
The cashew nut originated in North-east Brazil. The Portuguese introduced it into India in the 16th century, and from there, cashew trees spread throughout South-east Asia. Nowadays, they are used all over the world. The countries with the highest cultivators of cashew are Ivory Coast and India.
On the other hand, we have pistachio, which belongs to the family of cashew nuts, botanically, is again a seed nut. Pistachio is native to Central Asian countries. It has been part of the culinary culture of Asian countries for a very long time. Nowadays, pistachio is spread all over the world—most pistachio cultivation in the USA and Iran.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between cashew and pistachio, taking into consideration their general differences, nutritional content, and health impacts.
In this section, we are going to talk about varieties of cashew and pistachio.
There are the following types of pistachios:
Naturally open in-shell pistachios: these are roasted in-shell and are only used as a snack. If maintained in moderately dry circumstances, raw dried pistachios have an almost infinite storage life. The kernel content is approximately 55–59%.
Mechanically opened (MO) pistachios differ from naturally open pistachios in that they have a lower kernel weight to in-shell ratio. MOs of high quality can have kernel contents of 49–50%. MOs are consumed as a snack.
Closed shells: these are pistachios that have not naturally opened (on average, 20% of the harvest, depending on variety and crop year). Closed-shell pistachios are either mechanically opened or shelled for further processing to produce natural kernels.
Natural pistachio kernels: these are obtained by shelling closed-shell (and, on rare occasions, open-in-shell) pistachios. In contrast to cashews and peanuts, pistachio kernels are more commonly utilized as food ingredients, such as in bakery products, the chocolate industry, and cooking.
Green peeled pistachio kernels (GPPK) are made by picking pistachios before they are fully ripe, preserving the green color of the kernel. They are commonly used as food ingredients in cookies, chocolates, ice creams, and sausages. They are added in small amounts to provide a unique and luxurious flavor.
As for cashew nuts, there are 33 different grades. However, only 26 of them are now for sale. A grade is represented by a number and two numbers, or an alphabet, according to the requirements given by the Vietnam Cashew Industry.
According to the cashew nut classification system, the more developed, larger, tastier, and nutritious the nut, the higher its worth. As a result, the W-180 is widely regarded as the best of the 33 varieties and is known as the "King of Cashews." It is a larger, more expensive white, whole-grain cashew with 1440 to 180 nuts per pound (266 to 395 beans per kg).
W-320 cashew kernels are the most commonly used cashew kernels worldwide. W-210, popularly known as "Jumbo" nuts, and W-240 are both excellent grades.
Appearance and Taste
The flavors of these goods differ depending on whether they are roasted or raw, but in common, they have a deep, nutty flavor.
First-quality fancy cashew kernels have a color that ranges from white to light yellow or pale ivory. Cashew kernels that are of second quality may have hues of yellow, light brown, and light ivory and may appear scorched. Scorched cashew kernels of third quality can come in various colors, such as dark yellow, brown, amber, or light to deep blue. As a result, you can distinguish between standard cashew qualities and use them accordingly.
Pistachios, in their raw form, have an oval shape with smooth and curved edges. These nuts are covered by a soft yellow outer shell that has a blend of pink, maroon, and purple-red colors.
What are their general differences?
Their general differences are according to their price, availability, and culinary world usage.
Pistachio is cheaper than cashew nuts, as standard prices worldwide are nearly 4x cheaper than cashew. However, this price difference might change in some countries due to availability and local cultivation.
Both these nuts are nearly always available globally. However, we can consider that pistachios are slightly more available worldwide since they are cheaper. However, both nuts can be found everywhere throughout all seasons.
Culinary world usage
Cashews are highly used in the culinary world, and they have high versatility, specifically since vegan cheese and milk can be made out of cashews. They can be used in cooking or as a side to alcoholic drinks. Even in some Middle Eastern sweets, cashews can be used as filling.
Compared to cashews, pistachios have wide use in the Mediterranean region and specifically in Arab countries, as many baklavas and sweets are made with pistachios. They are also used as toppings for cooking. Pistachio milk is also available as an alternative to non-dairy milk. Similar to cashews, salted pistachios can also be used as a side with alcoholic drinks.
Nutritional content comparison
In this section, we will compare 100g of raw cashew and raw pistachio.
Cashews and pistachios have nearly the same amount of calories, which for cashew is equal to 553 calories per 100g, and for pistachio, 560 calories. The amount of calories is enough to take the amount of these nuts into consideration while eating.
Cashews and pistachios are rich in proteins. Even pistachio milk is considered one of the highest protein-containing non-dairy milk, but it contains far less protein per glass than dairy milk itself. Pistachios contain higher amounts of protein compared to cashews. Still, their numbers are pretty similar: 18.22g for cashew and 20.16g for pistachio.
Both are high in essential amino acids, which can't be synthesized in our bodies but are necessary for many physiological processes, so their consumption is important.
Fat is the highest constituent in the macros of both of these nuts. Pistachio has slightly higher amounts of fat than cashew, but their amounts are quite similar: 45.32g and 43.85g per 100g, respectively.
Cashews contain more saturated and monounsaturated fats compared to pistachios, which contain more polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6.
Cashews contain more carbs than pistachios. Their carbohydrate content is 30.19g and 27.17g, respectively.
Pistachios contain 3.2 times more fiber than cashews. 100g of pistachio can satisfy 30–50% of the RDV of fibers; the range is according to the difference in fiber intake in females and males.
Cashews and pistachios are both categorized as low-glycemic-index foods. Their glycemic index is nearly the same; however, pistachio has a slightly higher GI, which is 28, compared to cashew, which is 25.
Pistachios have a richer vitamin profile than cashews.
Cashew is richer in vitamin B5 and vitamin K, whereas pistachio is richer in B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 (folate), A, and E.
Below you can see the diagram that visualizes the vitamin distributions.
These foods are packed with minerals and are a great source of various minerals.
Cashew is richer in sodium, manganese, selenium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. On the other hand, pistachio is richer in potassium and calcium.
However, these amounts are all high in both nuts. Most of them even satisfy the RDV in both nuts.
In the below chart, we see the difference between their distributions.
Consumption of cashew and pistachio nuts in proper serving sizes and unsalted forms positively affects overall cardiovascular health.
Both of these nuts have peptides that may inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which has an essential role in reducing arterial blood pressure (1.2.3).
Pistachio and cashew nut consumption may help to decrease LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in the blood, which is important for people with coronary artery disease and people who have had a myocardial infarction (4.5.6).
Unlike pistachio, cashew is high in vitamin K, which may aid in the regulation of blood coagulation (7).
Cashew nuts and extracts have hypoglycemic properties in type 2 diabetic patients, and they regulate blood insulin levels and blood glucose levels. As mentioned above, cashew nut consumption may reduce LDL levels, which is important for preventing the development of metabolic syndrome and, in turn, may decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes (8).
Pistachio consumption has been linked with a significant decrease and the regulation of fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetic patients and people who suffer from metabolic syndrome (9).
In addition, pistachio consumption is linked with decreased inflammation markers related to high glucose levels in diabetic patients (10).
Cashew flavonoids have apoptotic effects on cancer cell lines, specifically T-cell leukemia. These are explicitly targeting malignant immortal T cells that have become carcinogenic (11).
On the other hand, pistachio extracts have chemoprotective properties targeted at colon cancer cell lines (12).
Cashew consumption is linked with decreased inflammatory processes in the digestive system, specifically colitis. This is due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics of cashews. In addition, cashews have direct inhibitory functions on pro-inflammatory enzymes and cytokines (13.14).
Polyphenols present in pistachios have anti-inflammatory properties that have a systemic effect. Overall, reducing inflammation in the whole body has many benefits (15).
Weight loss impacts
Overall, consumption of both these nuts and most specifically in unsalted forms, has beneficial effects on overall health; swapping them for snacks that contain high sugar and salt amounts is key to improving health and preventing diseases like hypertension and diabetes.
Fat Type Comparison
Carbohydrate type comparison
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||26µg||0µg|
|Omega-6 - Linoleic acid||14.091g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet|
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Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.
- Pistachio - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170184/nutrients
- Cashew - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170162/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.