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Pistachio vs Walnut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Elen Khachatrian by Elen Khachatrian | Last updated on June 16, 2021
Education: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Pistachio
vs
Walnut

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 a lower glycemic index than pistachios.

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 prevalent in many dishes, including desserts.

Varieties

Pistachio belongs to the Anacardiaceae family. Pistachios are edible seeds of a small long-live tree that is probably originating from Central Asia. The most common pistachio types are the Noble pistachio, 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 proper 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; it's very versatile and 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, etc.

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 essential to highlight that both nuts can be sources of minerals required for required daily consumption.

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

Vitamins

In comparison, pistachio has a higher amount of vitamins than walnuts. It has 24 times more Vitamin A, three times more Vitamin E and Vitamin C, two times more Vitamin B6, and 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.

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 A +2480%
Contains more Vitamin E +308.6%
Contains more Vitamin C +330.8%
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 A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 31% 58% 0% 19% 218% 37% 25% 32% 393% 39% 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 A +2480%
Contains more Vitamin E +308.6%
Contains more Vitamin C +330.8%
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

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 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 one tablespoon of walnut oil a day for three 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, a significant 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 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 primary factor of heart disease. Pistachios are a great source of L-arginine, converted into nitric oxide in the body, a compound that plays an essential 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 three months showed improvements in markers of endothelial function and vascular stiffness [10].

Brain Health

Walnuts contain amino-3 acids and potent 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].

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
Education: Nutrition & Microbiology at YSU
Last updated: June 16, 2021

Infographic

Pistachio 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.
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

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Pistachio Walnut Opinion
Net carbs 16.57g 7.01g Pistachio
Protein 20.16g 15.23g Pistachio
Fats 45.32g 65.21g Walnut
Carbs 27.17g 13.71g Pistachio
Calories 560kcal 654kcal Walnut
Starch 1.67g 0.06g Pistachio
Fructose 0.24g 0.09g Pistachio
Sugar 7.66g 2.61g Walnut
Fiber 10.6g 6.7g Pistachio
Calcium 105mg 98mg Pistachio
Iron 3.92mg 2.91mg Pistachio
Magnesium 121mg 158mg Walnut
Phosphorus 490mg 346mg Pistachio
Potassium 1025mg 441mg Pistachio
Sodium 1mg 2mg Pistachio
Zinc 2.2mg 3.09mg Walnut
Copper 1.3mg 1.586mg Walnut
Vitamin A 516IU 20IU Pistachio
Vitamin E 2.86mg 0.7mg Pistachio
Vitamin D 0IU 0IU
Vitamin D 0µg 0µg
Vitamin C 5.6mg 1.3mg Pistachio
Vitamin B1 0.87mg 0.341mg Pistachio
Vitamin B2 0.16mg 0.15mg Pistachio
Vitamin B3 1.3mg 1.125mg Pistachio
Vitamin B5 0.52mg 0.57mg Walnut
Vitamin B6 1.7mg 0.537mg Pistachio
Folate 51µg 98µg Walnut
Vitamin B12 0µg 0µg
Vitamin K µg 2.7µg Walnut
Tryptophan 0.251mg 0.17mg Pistachio
Threonine 0.684mg 0.596mg Pistachio
Isoleucine 0.917mg 0.625mg Pistachio
Leucine 1.604mg 1.17mg Pistachio
Lysine 1.138mg 0.424mg Pistachio
Methionine 0.36mg 0.236mg Pistachio
Phenylalanine 1.092mg 0.711mg Pistachio
Valine 1.249mg 0.753mg Pistachio
Histidine 0.512mg 0.391mg Pistachio
Cholesterol 0mg 0mg
Trans Fat 0g g Walnut
Saturated Fat 5.907g 6.126g Pistachio
Monounsaturated Fat 23.257g 8.933g Pistachio
Polyunsaturated fat 14.38g 47.174g Walnut

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

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
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

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 - 28)
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.

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.