Peanut vs Almond - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Peanuts and almonds are two of the healthiest natural snacks to be found. But if you had to choose only one - which would be the better choice? In this article we will look into this question by comparing almond’s and peanuts’ nutritional composition and health impact, as well as other aspects.
From a botanical point of view, neither peanuts, nor almonds are true nuts. They are, however, used as nuts in the kitchen, which is why they are referred to as culinary nuts.
Peanuts (Arachis hypogaea) are the seeds of legume crops, belonging to the Arachis genus and Fabaceae family. Peanuts are also known as groundnut, monkey nut, earthnut goober and pindar.
Almonds (Prunus dulcis) are the seeds of a tree that belongs to the Amygdalus subgenus of the Prunus genus and the Rosaceae family. Almonds share this genus with numerous fruits, such as peaches, apricots, plums, cherries and nectarines.
The differences in the appearances of these two nuts are easy to recognize. Peanuts are the round or oval seeds found in oblong pods with rounded ends. The pods are usually light brown or beige, while the seeds can appear in shades red or dark purple as well.
Almonds are the singular seeds within flat, slightly porous and beige pods. They are milky white fruits, enclosed in a brown cover.
Taste and Use
Peanuts and almonds can be fairly similar in taste. However, due to a compound found in almonds called amygdalin, they can often taste more bitter.
As culinary nuts, they are both used in similar ways - as snacks or as ingredients in pastries and meals. These nuts can also be used for the production of various products, such as flour, oil, butter and milk.
Almond is one of the main ingredients in the making of marzipan and it’s also commonly used in the production of nougat.
The variety or cultivar of a given food defines its major characteristics, such as appearance, taste, nutritional values and, therefore, its usage.
Peanuts and almonds both have dozens of distinct cultivars. The most commonly used varieties of peanuts are Runner, Virginia, Spanish and Valencia. The Runner is the most widely used peanut variety in the United States, while Virginia, due to its large size, is often sold and used as a snack. Spanish is the variety commonly used for the production of sweets, as they are smaller in size.
The most significant varieties of almonds are Nonpareil, Sonora, Aldrich, Winters and Carmel. As the name suggests, the Nonpareil almond is the most widely used variety, due to their thin shells that can be easily removed to reveal the seed without blemishes.
The nutritional compositions below are presented for raw almonds and peanuts of all types.
Macronutrients and Calories
Both almonds and peanuts are incredibly well packed in nutrients. However, between the two, almonds are more dense in nutrients, as they contain only 4% water, whereas peanuts consist of 6.5% water.
The average serving size for almonds and peanuts is the same, equal to one ounce or 28.35g.
Almonds and peanuts are both high calories foods.
The more nutrient-dense almonds are naturally slightly higher in calories. One hundred gram serving of almonds contains 579 calories, while the same serving size of peanuts has 567 calories.
Protein and Fats
Peanuts are richer in proteins. Both contain high levels of all essential amino acids, however, peanuts are richer in all of them. Methionine and lysine are two essential amino acids that almonds are sparse in. Peanuts, on the other hand, are ample in both methionine and lysine.
These nuts have a very similar level of fats. Almonds contain a little more fats, due to the high content of monounsaturated fatty acids. Peanuts, on the other hand, are richer in both saturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Peanuts and almonds naturally contain no cholesterol.
Almonds contain a significantly higher level of carbohydrates, due to their dietary fiber content, Peanuts are slightly higher in sugars.
The main carbohydrates found in almonds, besides dietary fiber, are sucrose and starch. They also contain smaller amounts of glucose, fructose, galactose and maltose.
Peanuts are richer in most B group vitamins, including vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6 and the folate form of vitamin B9.
Almonds, on the other hand, are higher in vitamin B2 and vitamin E. Almonds also contain vitamin A, which peanuts lack completely.
Almonds and peanuts are both absent in vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K and vitamin B12.
Almonds are overall a little richer in minerals. Almonds contain higher levels of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. Almonds are also lower in sodium.
Instead, peanuts are richer in iron, copper and selenium.
Peanuts and almonds contain very similar amounts of zinc and choline.
Like most nuts, peanuts and almonds have very low glycemic indices.
According to The International Tables of Glycemic Indices, the glycemic index of crushed peanuts from South Africa is 7±4 (2). At the same time, peanuts from Canada have been calculated to have a glycemic index that falls in the range of 13±6, while peanuts from Mexico have a glycemic index of 23 (2).
The glycemic index of almonds is lower as they are richer in dietary fiber and contain less sugars. The International Journal of Medical Research has put the glycemic index of almonds at 0 (3).
The acidity of peanuts and almonds is not so different.
Depending on the cooking method, the acidity of peanuts can vary. Raw peanuts have a nearly neutral pH of 6.9, while the pH of roasted peanuts is more acidic, equal to 6.3 (4).
In contrast, the pH value of both raw and roasted almonds is the same, equal to 7 (4). The acidity of almonds is more neutral compared to peanuts.
An alternative way of measuring the acidity of foods is the potential renal acid load or the PRAL. The PRAL value demonstrates the capacity of the food to produce bases or acids inside the organism.
The PRAL values for peanuts and almonds have been calculated to be 6.2 and 2.3 respectively. The higher this number is the more acidic the food is.
Weight Loss & Diets
Peanuts and almonds are very high in calories. However, this does not necessarily exclude them from weight loss diets, as they’re rich in proteins, dietary fiber and healthy fats.
Between these two nuts, peanut is the better choice for a low calorie, low carb and a low fats diet.
Both peanuts and almonds are good sources of monounsaturated fatty acids. Studies have found that inclusion of foods rich in these fats, peanuts in particular, may have beneficial effects on calorie-reduced weight loss diets (5).
Research has demonstrated that nuts can be included in weight loss diets as a good source of various nutrients without posing a risk for weight gain (6).
In one study, a balanced low-calorie diet, enriched with almonds, led to a greater weight loss and overall decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, when compared to a balanced low-calorie diet without nuts (7).
A low calorie, almond enriched diet also demonstrated improved long term weight loss results (8).
We discussed previously which valuable nutrients peanuts and almonds are rich in. In this section, we will look at what beneficial roles these nutrients play for our health.
Consistent and prolonged consumption of nuts has been studied to lead to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease. Peanut, but not peanut butter, intake has also been associated with an inverse risk of stroke (9).
Peanuts, peanut oil and peanut butter can all be a part of a cholesterol-lowering diet, high in monounsaturated fatty acids. This diet is preferred over a low fat diet, as it has a more favourable effect on cardiovascular risk factors (10).
Studies have concluded that daily intake of almonds can potentially prevent cardiovascular disease in both short and long terms (11).
Addition of almonds to a diet may reduce blood levels of low density lipoproteins (also known as “bad” cholesterol), while maintaining high density lipoprotein (also known as “good” cholesterol) levels (12). Peanuts can also reduce levels of low density lipoproteins (13).
Peanuts and almonds are both very low glycemic index foods, rich in fiber and healthy fats.
A higher consumption of nuts and peanut butter has been associated with a lowered risk of type 2 diabetes in women (14).
Consumption of peanuts as an evening snack has been researched to improve glucose levels in individuals with prediabetes (15).
Research has indicated that daily inclusion of peanuts in the diet of an adult with type 2 diabetes improves cardioprotective properties of the diet and reduces body weight (16).
Studies have found that inclusion of almonds into a healthy diet has beneficial effects on obesity, glycemic control and lipid profile, therefore reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals with type 2 diabetes (17, 18).
Nut consumption has been researched to reduce risk of cancer overall by inducing apoptosis and inhibiting cell proliferation (19).
Peanuts are high in beneficial phytochemicals, such as phytosterols and resveratrol, which give peanuts their anti cancer qualities. Peanut consumption can decrease the risk of colon and colorectal, esophageal, gastric, pancreatic and breast cancers (20, 21).
Almonds have been researched to have cancer preventive effects against breast, colon and colorectal, endometrial and pancreatic cancers (22, 23, 24).
Downsides and Risks
Peanut allergy is one of the most commonly occurring allergies. Peanut allergy, like all food allergies, can cause nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps, difficulty breathing, coughing, swelling and sometimes even anaphylactic shock. Peanut allergy does not have a cross-reaction with other legumes or nuts and can be outgrown (25).
Almond allergy is quite rare. It manifests with all the same symptoms as a peanut allergy. Almond allergy can have a cross-reactivity with cashew, pistachio, pecan and walnut (26).
Aflatoxins and Cancer Risk
Aflatoxins can be found on certain diseased agricultural crops. Aflatoxins are a family of toxins, produced by fungi. High consumption of this toxin can significantly increase the risk of liver cancer.
To avoid aflatoxin exposure, production of nuts has to be regulated and moldy, discoloured or shrivelled nuts should be discarded (27).
In summary, almonds are higher in calories, fats and carbs, while peanuts contain more protein. The high amount of fats and carbs found in almonds is mostly due to dietary fiber and monounsaturated fats.
Almonds are also richer in vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin B2, as well as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. Almonds are lower in sodium.
Peanuts, on the other hand contain higher levels of most B group vitamins, as well as iron and copper.
Almonds also have a lower glycemic index.
Overall, peanuts and almonds are full of beneficial nutrients and impacts on health.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in minerals||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||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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All nutrients comparison - raw data values