Pistachio vs Walnut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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  .
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 .
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 .
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 . Another study shows that walnuts can decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol that is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease . Several studies have shown the cholesterol-lowering effects of pistachios. Pistachios are associated with reduced LDL cholesterol and increases in HDL (good) cholesterol .
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
Downsides and Risks
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 .
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.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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