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Walnut vs Peanut - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Walnut
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Peanut

Introduction

In this article we are going to discuss the differences between peanuts and walnuts. Both of these are well-known, important crops grown worldwide. These nuts are some of the most loved snacks and today, we will dig a little deeper and find out if they are healthy, what their similarities, as well as their differences are.

Classification

Peanut (Arachis hypogaea) or “groundnut”, as it is known in some parts of the world, is the edible seed of a legume plant.  Botanically speaking, peanuts are not considered to be true nuts, but are used as such in the kitchen due to similar nutritional properties. Although a legume; it is generally included amongst the oilseeds due to its high oil content.

The walnut also known as Juglans regia, is an appreciated nut that belongs to the Juglandaceae family. The fruit includes four main parts: the kernel, the skin, the shell, and the green husk. It is widely cultivated due to its edible kernel.

Nutrition

The nutritional values below are presented for raw peanuts of all types and English walnuts.

Macronutrients and Calories

Walnuts and peanuts are both highly dense in nutrients. Peanuts consist of 6.5%  water, while walnuts contain only 4% water.

Calories

One hundred grams of walnuts contain 654 calories, while peanuts have fewer calories in total, containing 567 in a 100g serving. So both of these nut types are very high in calories.

Protein and Fats

Peanuts have higher protein content whereas walnuts are richer in fats

Both walnuts and peanuts have high levels of all essential amino acids. Peanuts are richer in tryptophan, histidine, and threonine. Walnuts have a smaller amount of lysine compared with peanuts. 

Walnuts are richer in healthy fats, containing large amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Replacement of saturated fatty acids with polyunsaturated fatty acids has been associated with reduced cardiovascular disease risk (1).

 On the other hand, peanuts contain larger amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids. Either of them has the same low amount of saturated fatty acids.

Both types do not contain cholesterol.

Carbohydrates

Walnuts and peanuts contain nearly the same amount of carbohydrates. Yet, peanuts are richer in dietary fiber. 

The main component of the carbohydrates found in walnuts, other than fiber, is sucrose. Walnuts contain a very small amount of fructose and glucose.

Vitamins

Although walnuts are more diverse in vitamins, peanuts provide a larger percentage of daily values of several vitamins which are vitamins B1, B3, B9, and vitamin E.

Walnuts, on the other hand, are richer in vitamin B2 and vitamin B6. Peanuts have a complete lack of vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin K, which can be found in walnuts. 

Both of these nuts are equal in vitamin B2.

Minerals

In this category, it is almost a tie. Both of the nuts are equal in calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. Although walnuts contain less sodium than peanuts.

Peanuts contain a higher level of iron and potassium, while walnuts are richer in copper.

Glycemic Index

Peanut has a low glycemic index and glycemic load. On a 100 –point scale, the glycemic index of peanuts is 14, and the glycemic load of peanuts is one (2). 

Having said that, both walnut’s glycemic index and glycemic load are zero (2).

Acidity

The pH value of walnuts is more acidic, tantamount to 5.42, whereas the acidity of peanuts, depending on their type, is close to neutral. Raw peanuts’ pH value is 6.87 and roasted peanuts’ pH value equals to 6.31 (3).

The acidic effect of foods can also be quantified by calculating the potential renal acid load (PRAL) of the diet, which is based on dietary intakes of protein and mineral ions (4).

In this case, the PRAL value of walnuts is 5.6, which is considered to be acid-forming. The PRAL value of peanuts is 6.2, making them slightly more acid-forming than walnuts.

Weight Loss and Diets

Walnuts and peanuts are very high in calories. However, the amount of protein, healthy fats, and dietary fiber in their consistency makes them applicable for a healthy diet.

Nevertheless, between these two nuts, peanuts are the better choice for low calories and low fats diets, whilst walnuts are more suitable for a low-carb and a low glycemic index diet.

Contrary to expectations, clinical trials, epidemiological studies, and systematic reviews of different studies have shown that walnut consumption in the diet does not contribute to weight gain or hinder weight loss goals as compared to a control diet (5).

Considerable pieces of evidence show that incorporating peanut and peanut butter into the diet does not lead to weight gain or higher body weight (6). 

In the research related to weight loss, diets incorporated with peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut oil, have shown to provide an improved long-term weight maintenance (6).

Health Impact

Health benefits

Since the protein in peanuts and walnuts is plant based, it carries with it additional components that have positive health benefits like fiber and unique bioactive components, unlike animal protein. 

Cardiovascular Health

Research has identified numerous compounds in peanuts and in their skins that may have added health benefits beyond basic nutrition (6). 

Peanuts have been touted as a functional food with numerous functional components like Coenzyme Q10 which protects the heart during the period of lack of oxygen, for example high altitudes and clogged arteries (6).

Peanut products, such as raw, butter, and oil, are more beneficial to heart health when compared to low-fat diets (6). 

The high monounsaturated fat peanut diet has been studied to lower total body cholesterol by 11% and “bad” low density lipoprotein by 14%, while “good” high density lipoprotein was maintained with a reduction in triglycerides (6). 

There is strong evidence supporting an association between monounsaturated fat, as well as overall nut intake, and a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease (6).

Walnuts have been shown to decrease low density lipoprotein cholesterol and diastolic blood pressure, two major risk factors for cardiovascular disease (7).

The effect of walnuts on multiple cardiovascular disease targets, over relatively short periods of time supports recommendations for their inclusion in a heart-healthy diet (7).

Brain Health

Walnuts contain several components that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. 

Animal and human studies suggest that supplementation with walnuts in the diet may improve cognition and reduce the risk and/or progression of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease (8).

Diabetes

The American Diabetes Association ranks peanuts and other nuts as diabetes superfoods. Peanuts make the list because they contain magnesium, fiber and heart-healthy oils and do not overly affect your blood glucose (6).

Walnut consumers showed lower risk for diabetes compared with non-nut consumers based on self-report, as well as fasting blood glucose levels (9). 

One study showed that increased walnut intake significantly reduces the prevalence of diabetes. The gender by walnut interaction suggests that the effect may be more potent among women than men (9).

Cancer

Unsaturated fats, certain vitamins and minerals, and the bioactive components have shown to have cancer-preventive effects, which are all packaged into a peanut kernel (6).

In particular, the phytosterols in peanuts that have been studied in regards to cancer, have been reported to reduce prostate tumor growth by over 40% and cut the occurrences of cancer spreading to other parts of the body by almost 50% (6).

Researchers have identified biochemicals found in walnuts that have cancer-prevention properties. Walnuts are an example of foods that contain many components that have individually been found to be beneficial against cancer. Walnuts are an exceptional plant-based source of 18-carbon α-linolenic acid (11).

Downsides & Risks

Allergy

Tree nut allergy is common and often severe (10). 

The exact cause of the allergy is unknown.

The cotyledons, which are parts of the embryo of the seeds, are probably the major source of allergen for most individuals, as the skins and hearts are often removed during processing.

Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, urticaria, angioedema, which includes swelling of the lips, face, throat and skin, as well as asthma and anaphylactic shock (6).

Summary

In summary, walnuts are higher in calories and fats, whereas peanuts are richer in fiber and provide a larger percentage of daily values of several vitamins, such as vitamins B1, B3, B9, and vitamin E.

Both of the nuts are equal in calcium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus. Although walnuts contain less sodium than peanuts, they are richer in copper. On the other hand peanuts contain a higher level of iron and potassium.

Sources 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4744652/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4711439/
  3. http://www.nphsystem.guide/nut_seed_values.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4424466/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7071526/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4711439/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24500935/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32093220/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29927053/
  10.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5875412/
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3952627/
Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Profession: Yerevan State Medical University
Last updated: June 2, 2021

Infographic

Walnut vs Peanut 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
Walnut
3
:
5
Peanut
Contains more Copper +38.6%
Contains less Sodium -88.9%
Contains more Iron +57.4%
Contains more Potassium +59.9%
Equal in Calcium - 92
Equal in Magnesium - 168
Equal in Zinc - 3.27
Equal in Phosphorus - 376
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 110% 30% 39% 113% 529% 85% 149% 1%
Iron Calcium Potassium Magnesium Copper Zinc Phosphorus Sodium 172% 28% 63% 120% 382% 90% 162% 3%
Contains more Copper +38.6%
Contains less Sodium -88.9%
Contains more Iron +57.4%
Contains more Potassium +59.9%
Equal in Calcium - 92
Equal in Magnesium - 168
Equal in Zinc - 3.27
Equal in Phosphorus - 376

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
Walnut
5
:
5
Peanut
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +54.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +1090%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +87.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +972.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +210%
Contains more Folate +144.9%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.135
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%
Vitamin C Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 Vitamin K Folate 0% 0% 167% 0% 160% 32% 227% 107% 81% 0% 0% 180%
Contains more Vitamin C +∞%
Contains more Vitamin A +∞%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +11.1%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +54.3%
Contains more Vitamin K +∞%
Contains more Vitamin E +1090%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +87.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +972.5%
Contains more Vitamin B5 +210%
Contains more Folate +144.9%
Equal in Vitamin B2 - 0.135

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
33
Walnut
79
Peanut
Mineral Summary Score
131
Walnut
127
Peanut

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
91%
Walnut
155%
Peanut
Carbohydrates
14%
Walnut
16%
Peanut
Fats
301%
Walnut
227%
Peanut

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

Which food is preferable for your diet?

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

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Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in Sugar (difference - 2.11g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Walnut
Walnut contains less Sodium (difference - 16mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.153g)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
Walnut
Walnut is lower in glycemic index (difference - 13)
Which food is cheaper?
Peanut
Peanut is cheaper (difference - $2.2)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Peanut
Peanut is relatively richer in minerals
Which food contains less Cholesterol?
?
The foods are relatively equal in Cholesterol (0 mg)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
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 Walnut Peanut Opinion
Calories 654 567 Walnut
Protein 15.23 25.8 Peanut
Fats 65.21 49.24 Walnut
Vitamin C 1.3 0 Walnut
Carbs 13.71 16.13 Peanut
Cholesterol 0 0
Vitamin D 0 0
Iron 2.91 4.58 Peanut
Calcium 98 92 Walnut
Potassium 441 705 Peanut
Magnesium 158 168 Peanut
Sugar 2.61 4.72 Walnut
Fiber 6.7 8.5 Peanut
Copper 1.586 1.144 Walnut
Zinc 3.09 3.27 Peanut
Starch 0.06 Walnut
Phosphorus 346 376 Peanut
Sodium 2 18 Walnut
Vitamin A 20 0 Walnut
Vitamin E 0.7 8.33 Peanut
Vitamin D 0 0
Vitamin B1 0.341 0.64 Peanut
Vitamin B2 0.15 0.135 Walnut
Vitamin B3 1.125 12.066 Peanut
Vitamin B5 0.57 1.767 Peanut
Vitamin B6 0.537 0.348 Walnut
Vitamin B12 0 0
Vitamin K 2.7 0 Walnut
Folate 98 240 Peanut
Trans Fat 0 Walnut
Saturated Fat 6.126 6.279 Walnut
Monounsaturated Fat 8.933 24.426 Peanut
Polyunsaturated fat 47.174 15.558 Walnut
Tryptophan 0.17 0.25 Peanut
Threonine 0.596 0.883 Peanut
Isoleucine 0.625 0.907 Peanut
Leucine 1.17 1.672 Peanut
Lysine 0.424 0.926 Peanut
Methionine 0.236 0.317 Peanut
Phenylalanine 0.711 1.377 Peanut
Valine 0.753 1.082 Peanut
Histidine 0.391 0.652 Peanut
Fructose 0.09 Walnut

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. Walnut - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170187/nutrients
  2. Peanut - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/172430/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.