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Pistachio vs Walnut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Pistachio
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Walnut

Introduction

In general, nuts are healthy snack options. Each type of nut has different nutritional benefits. This article aims to compare two members of the culinary nut group: pistachio vs walnut. Both nuts are natural sources of micronutrients, certain minerals, and vitamins. Nowadays, these nuts are very popular in many dishes, including desserts.

Varieties

Pistachios are edible seeds of a small long-live tree that is probably originating from Central Asia. Pistachio belongs to the Anacardiaceae family. The most common pistachio types are the Noble pistachio, with green almond, and the Levante, with a yellow edible part.

Nuts of any tree of the genus Juglans are called walnuts. Walnut is not a true botanical nut, it is the edible seed of a drupe. There are two most common types of walnut: the Persian walnut and the black walnut.

Taste and Uses

Walnut itself is earthy and mild, but walnut skin might be slightly bitter. Pistachio has a smooth texture and a sweet, sometimes earthy flavor.
Pistachios are usually used as a snack, in salads, ground into sauces, or in desserts. Pistachio flavoring is also a common dessert ingredient, besides it’s very versatile and can be mixed in any dessert.

Walnut and walnut oil are widely used worldwide. This nut is used in different dishes, salads, desserts such as brownies, ice creams, sauces, and so on.

Nutrition

The nutritional values are presented for raw peanuts and raw walnuts. At the bottom of this page, you can find nutrition infographics of these nuts.

Minerals

Pistachio contains more iron, potassium, phosphorus, and less sodium than a walnut. On the other hand, walnuts have more magnesium, copper, and zinc than pistachio. Both nuts have an equal level of calcium. It is important to highlight that both nuts can be sources of minerals required for daily required consumption.

Vitamins

In comparison, pistachio has a higher amount of vitamins than walnuts. It has 24 times more Vitamin A, 3 times more Vitamin E and Vitamin C, 2 times more Vitamin B6, and also more Vitamins B3 and B1.

Despite that, walnuts have more folate than pistachio. Both of these nuts contain equal levels of Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B5. Pistachio has no Vitamin K, both nuts lack Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.

Micronutrients

Pistachios have higher protein content while walnuts are rich in fats. However, both pistachio and walnut are rich in healthy fats. Pistachio contains more monounsaturated fat, whereas walnuts contain more polyunsaturated fats. Pistachio also has a higher amount of fiber and carbs. On the other hand, walnuts have less sugar content. Both nuts contain no cholesterol.

Glycemic Index

Overall, nuts are considered low glycemic index food. The glycemic index of pistachio is higher than that of walnut. It has a GI equal to 15, whereas the GI of walnuts is 0.

Calories

Both nuts are rich in calories, however, walnuts contain more calories than pistachios. It has 654 calories per 100 g, whereas pistachio has 560 calories per 100 g.

Health Impact

Weight Loss and Diet

Both nuts are high in calories, but healthy fats and fiber make them applicable for a healthy diet.

According to the study, the daily intake of these nuts does not significantly affect weight gain.

However, between these two nuts, pistachios are the better choice for low calories and low fats diets, due to their low content of healthy fat. Walnuts are more suitable for a low-carb and a low glycemic index diet [1] [2].

Diabetes

Nuts are one of several foods that have beneficial effects for people with type 2 diabetes due to their unsaturated fats and fiber content.

Based on the study, 100 people with type 2 diabetes, consuming 1 tablespoon of walnut oil a day for 3 months resulted in an 8% decrease in fasting blood sugar [3].

According to the study, individuals with type 2 diabetes showed a 9% reduction in fasting blood sugar after eating 25 grams of pistachios twice a day [4].

Cardiovascular Health

Researchers suggest that eating nuts can be beneficial for cardiovascular health. For example, according to one study, eating walnuts can help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure [5]. Another study shows that walnuts can decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol that is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease [6]. Several studies have shown the cholesterol-lowering effects of pistachios. Pistachios are associated with reduced LDL cholesterol and increases in HDL (good) cholesterol [7].

Cancer

Both pistachios and walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats and antioxidants, which help prevent several diseases including cancer.

However, walnuts contain more antioxidants than most other nuts, therefore they can prevent several types of cancer. Moreover, walnuts are a great source of 18-carbon α-linolenic acid, which may prevent or inhibit the growth of cancer cells [8].

Gut Health

Eating walnuts can be good for your gut and can support the health of your microbiota. According to a study, a daily intake of 43 grams of walnuts can increase beneficial bacteria, including those that produce butyrate, a fat that promotes gut health.

Studies have also found that there is a link between an increase in gut bacteria and a lower risk of heart disease after the walnut diet [9].

Blood Vessel Health

Endothelial dysfunction is characterized by reduced vasodilation, which is the major factor of heart disease. Pistachios are a great source of L-arginine, which is converted into nitric oxide in the body, a compound that plays an important role in vasodilation. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate by signaling the smooth cells in the endothelium to relax. According to the study, 42 patients who daily consumed 40 grams of pistachio after 3 months showed improvements in markers of endothelial function and vascular stiffness [10].

Brain Health

Walnuts contain amino-3 acid and strong antioxidants which have anti-inflammatory effects. Based on several studies, adding walnuts to the diet may improve cognitive function and reduce the risk of progression of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease [11].

Downsides and Risks

Allergy

Allergy to pistachios and walnuts is often found in patients with tree pollen allergies. The symptoms usually include itching, swelling, burning in the mouth and throat.

In this case, if you are allergic to nuts, try to avoid eating all tree nuts, even if a healthcare professional has only diagnosed you as being allergic to one type [12].

Summary

Pistachios are richer in vitamins, iron, potassium, protein, fiber, carbs, have less saturated fats, less sodium, and are cheaper than walnuts. On the other hand, walnuts contain more magnesium, zinc, fewer sugars, and have a lower glycemic index than pistachios.

References

  1. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/2155
  2. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jfbc.13235
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28115966/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25396407/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24500935/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21677123/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27163889/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25336096/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29470389/
  10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25837212/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32093220/
  12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0091674976900865
Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
Profession: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: June 16, 2021

Infographic

Pistachio 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
:
3
Walnut
Contains more Iron +34.7%
Contains more Potassium +132.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +41.6%
Contains less Sodium -50%
Contains more Magnesium +30.6%
Contains more Copper +22%
Contains more Zinc +40.5%
Equal in Calcium - 98
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 147% 32% 91% 87% 434% 60% 210% 1%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 110% 30% 39% 113% 529% 85% 149% 1%
Contains more Iron +34.7%
Contains more Potassium +132.4%
Contains more Phosphorus +41.6%
Contains less Sodium -50%
Contains more Magnesium +30.6%
Contains more Copper +22%
Contains more Zinc +40.5%
Equal in Calcium - 98

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
:
3
Walnut
Contains more Vitamin C +330.8%
Contains more Vitamin A +2480%
Contains more Vitamin E +308.6%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +155.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +15.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +216.6%
Contains more Folate +92.2%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.15
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 0.57
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 19% 31% 58% 0% 218% 37% 25% 32% 393% 0% 0% 39%
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 C +330.8%
Contains more Vitamin A +2480%
Contains more Vitamin E +308.6%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +155.1%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +15.6%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +216.6%
Contains more Folate +92.2%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.15
Equal in Vitamin B5 - 0.57

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
71
Pistachio
33
Walnut
Mineral Summary Score
132
Pistachio
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
121%
Pistachio
91%
Walnut
Carbohydrates
27%
Pistachio
14%
Walnut
Fats
209%
Pistachio
301%
Walnut

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.
Pistachio Walnut
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in glycemic index ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in vitamins ok
Lower in Cholesterol Equal
Rich in minerals Equal

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Pistachio 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 is lower in Sugar?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in Sugar (difference - 5.05g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in glycemic index (difference - 15)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Pistachio
Pistachio contains less Sodium (difference - 1mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Pistachio
Pistachio is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.219g)
Which food is cheaper?
Pistachio
Pistachio is cheaper (difference - $2.4)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
Pistachio
Pistachio is relatively richer in vitamins
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in minerals?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Pistachio Walnut Opinion
Calories 560 654 Walnut
Protein 20.16 15.23 Pistachio
Fats 45.32 65.21 Walnut
Vitamin C 5.6 1.3 Pistachio
Carbs 27.17 13.71 Pistachio
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 3.92 2.91 Pistachio
Calcium 105 98 Pistachio
Potassium 1025 441 Pistachio
Magnesium 121 158 Walnut
Sugar 7.66 2.61 Walnut
Fiber 10.6 6.7 Pistachio
Copper 1.3 1.586 Walnut
Zinc 2.2 3.09 Walnut
Starch 1.67 0.06 Pistachio
Phosphorus 490 346 Pistachio
Sodium 1 2 Pistachio
Vitamin A 516 20 Pistachio
Vitamin E 2.86 0.7 Pistachio
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.87 0.341 Pistachio
Vitamin B2 0.16 0.15 Pistachio
Vitamin B3 1.3 1.125 Pistachio
Vitamin B5 0.52 0.57 Walnut
Vitamin B6 1.7 0.537 Pistachio
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 2.7 Walnut
Folate 51 98 Walnut
Trans Fat 0 Walnut
Saturated Fat 5.907 6.126 Pistachio
Monounsaturated Fat 23.257 8.933 Pistachio
Polyunsaturated fat 14.38 47.174 Walnut
Tryptophan 0.251 0.17 Pistachio
Threonine 0.684 0.596 Pistachio
Isoleucine 0.917 0.625 Pistachio
Leucine 1.604 1.17 Pistachio
Lysine 1.138 0.424 Pistachio
Methionine 0.36 0.236 Pistachio
Phenylalanine 1.092 0.711 Pistachio
Valine 1.249 0.753 Pistachio
Histidine 0.512 0.391 Pistachio
Fructose 0.24 0.09 Pistachio

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. Pistachio - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170184/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.