Pecan vs. Chestnut — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Pecan contains more vitamins, minerals, fats, and less sodium than chestnuts. It also has a lower GI. On the other hand, chestnuts are lower in sugars, saturated fats, and calories and have more carbs than pecan.
Table of contents
- What's The Actual Difference?
- Health Benefits
- Downsides and Risks
Nuts are tasty, healthy, and available all year, and, more importantly, they could be irreplaceable in some diets and health plans. Some nutritionists recommend the daily consumption of nuts for their health benefits.
What's The Actual Difference?
Taste and Culinary
Chestnuts have a slightly sweet flavor similar to sweet potato rather than another type of nut. Chestnuts are used in desserts, baking, preparing chocolate truffles and salads, and stuffing with cranberries or apples. They go well in winter soups and desserts.
Pecans have a dry and sweet taste. They are widely consumed in raw form and ingredients in pastries, candies, salads, cookies, pasta, and other dishes. Furthermore, nutshells can smoke meats, ground, beauty products, and even be made excellently.
Chestnuts are a group of eight or nine species of trees and shrubs that belong to the genus Castanea in the family Fagaceae. The name "chestnut" refers to the nuts produced by this plant. Chestnuts are native to the Northern Hemisphere.
There are four significant types of chestnut: American Chestnut, European Chestnut, Chinese Chestnut, and Japanese Chestnut. They are shiny brown, with a flat bottom and a point.
Pecan originated from South-central America and Mexico. Pecan belongs to the genus Carya in the family Juglandaceae. Pecans come in over 500 varieties with slightly different characteristics such as flavor, texture, size, color, shape, etc. Cape Fear, Desirable, Moreland, Stuart, and Natives are. Pecans have oval or elongated shells colored dark brown.
You can find nutritional infographics and tables on this page that visually show the differences between chestnut and pecan.
People prefer to consume raw varieties of pecans and roasted or boiled chestnuts. This is why the food varieties compared in this article are 100g servings of raw pecan nuts and European boiled and steamed chestnuts. However, the actual serving sizes are 1 oz. Equalling 28.35g.
The chart below shows that pecan and chestnut significantly differ in their macronutrient content. Pecans primarily consist of fats, while 68% of chestnuts is their water content. Chestnuts are richer in carbs, while pecans are higher in protein. Please, read more in the corresponding sections.
Pecan provides more overall fat content than chestnut. In particular, it contains 72g of fats per 100g, while chestnut has only 1.4g. Pecans are 40 times richer in monounsaturated fats, 21 times higher in polyunsaturated fats, and 6 times in saturated fats. Hence, most of the pecan fats are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
Chestnuts and pecans have no cholesterol.
Fat Type Comparison
Chestnuts contain more overall carbs than pecans. They have 27.76 g of carbs in 100g, while pecans have 13.86g.
All that 27.76g in chestnuts are net carbs.
In contrast, pecans contain starch, sugars, and, most importantly, high amounts of fiber. 100g of pecans has 9.6g of dietary fiber, including soluble and insoluble fiber.
Pecan is relatively high in minerals.
Pecan has more calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper than chestnut. Moreover, it contains 18 times more zinc and less sodium.
On the other hand, chestnut contains more potassium.
Overall, the amount of vitamins in pecan is higher than that of chestnut. It contains a significantly higher amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin K, and Vitamin E.
Chestnut contains 24 times more Vitamin C, B6, and folate.
Both lack Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D.
The number of calories in pecans is higher than in chestnuts. It has almost six times more calories per 100g: 691 kcal, whereas chestnut contains only 131 kcal per 100g.
The glycemic index of pecan is lower than that of chestnut.
The GI of pecan is equal to 10, while the estimated glycemic index of chestnuts is 54. Pecan is considered a low-glycemic index food.
You can check the glycemic indexes of 350+ foods on our glycemic index chart page.
Because chestnuts have a low number of calories and fats, they are a good choice in low-calorie and low-fat diets.
Although the pecan has more calories and fats, it can also be used in some diets. Pecans are the better choice if you are on a low carbs diet, such as the Keto diet. Besides, pecan has a low glycemic index, suitable for Low GI or Medium GI diets.
This section of the article will discover the health impact of pecan and chestnut, the benefits, and the downsides of their consumption.
One study shows that monounsaturated fatty acids, abundant in pecan, help lower blood total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein – bad (LDL) cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, particularly coronary heart disease (1).
Antioxidants and minerals content of chestnuts may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues, such as heart disease or stroke. Chestnuts contain a high amount of potassium, which helps to keep the heart beating by keeping electricity flowing throughout the human body (2). Besides, chestnuts contain high amounts of gallic and ellagic acids - antioxidants involved in fighting against oxidative stress that may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (3) (4).
Based on research, nuts are rich in antioxidants and anti-cancer properties.
According to the study, pecan contains powerful anti-cancer properties, such as 4-hydroxybenzoic, chlorogenic, vanillic, caffeic, and ellagic acid, which are effective against tumor cell growth and may be considered an alternative to the treatment of cancer (5).
On the other hand, Chestnuts are high in Vitamin C, phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins, all of which have anti-cancer properties. According to one study, chestnuts may be beneficial in treating stomach cancer and epistaxis (6).
Boost Immune System
According to research, Vitamin C may help people recover faster from the common cold.
Pecans are an excellent immune-boosting food because of their high Vitamin C content. Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells and acts as an antioxidant, lowering the risk of free radical formation and neutralizing them before they cause healthy cells to mutate or cause oxidative stress near vital organs (7).
According to studies, nuts, such as pecan or chestnut, can help to reduce blood sugar levels.
Pecans have a low glycemic index, so they do not cause a spike in blood sugar, even in people with diabetes. When eaten as part of a meal, pecans can even offset the effects of foods with a higher glycemic index (8).
Other Health Benefits
Several pecan compounds, such as polyphenols and Vitamin E, have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Several studies have demonstrated the role of these compounds in disease initiation and progression, including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and various types of cancer (9).
Chestnuts contain folic acid, which can aid in the prevention of congenital disabilities in newborns. However, eating chestnuts in moderation to avoid gaining too much weight is unfavorable during pregnancy (10).
Improve Brain Function
First, pecans are rich in the Vitamin B family, which is directly linked to proper neurological development and function.
According to the study, monounsaturated fatty acids in pecan may help to decrease mental decline and reduce inflammation. Besides, pecans are also rich in potassium, increasing blood flow to the brain and promoting good nervous system health (11).
Downsides and Risks
Although pecans and chestnuts have potential health benefits, they also have downsides.
Patients allergic to tree nuts are frequently allergic to pecan and chestnut. Itching, swelling, and burning in the mouth and throat are symptoms.
In cases of chestnut allergy, the allergen responsible for the reaction is most likely one of the lipid transfer proteins. Thirty percent of chestnut-allergic patients have severe anaphylactic reactions to ingestion. Common symptoms are wheezing throat swelling, and difficulty breathing (12).
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Glycemic Index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Lower in price||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||3µg||1µg|
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
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.
- Pecan - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170182/nutrients
- Chestnut - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170168/nutrients
All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.