Walnut vs Pecan - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
What kind of snack do you prefer? Some specialists claim that nuts are the best choice. From among the many other nuts, pecan and walnut have their unique places with their nutrients and health benefits. Both of them are edible tree-nuts. Despite of several similarities they have a few differences. Let’s discover them.
Differences between pecan and walnut
Pecan originated from South-central America and Mexico, and dates back to the 16th century, while walnut owes its origin to Asia and Europe and dates back to 7000 B.C. The Romans called walnuts “Jupiter’s Royal acorn”. Do you know that the word pecan means a nut which need a stone to be cracked, because it is extremely hard to do by hands? Besides, pecans shell is oval or elongated, colored dark brown. On the other hand, walnuts shell is easy to crack or open, even by hands. It is round shaped and colored light brown. Walnut looks like a “little brain”, and almost everybody knows about its brain boosting function. Pecans are drier and sweeter, walnuts may be a little bit bitter due to its rich oil content, that’s why sometimes it’s used roasted. Both of them are widely used not only in a raw form, but also as an ingredient in pastries, candies, salads, cookies, pastas, as well as in producing of walnut butter and oil. Both are widely consumed all over the world, pecan is mostly consumed in America. Prices depend on the territory, pecan is cheaper in America, and vice versa, walnut is cheaper in Europe and Asia.
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT COMPARISON
From the very start it is necessary to point out that both pecan and walnut are rich source of unsaturated fats. In fact, you can easily notice from the charts of comparison below, pecan is extremely rich in Monounsaturated fat. On the other hand, walnut is higher in Polyunsaturated fat, which includes Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid, that we will discuss later. Pecan is slightly higher in fiber. Controversially is higher in protein and amino acids. It is also worth mentioning that pecan lower in Sodium and Glycemic index. By contrast, walnut is lower in Sugar and Saturated fats. Both contain equal quantity of Cholesterol.
In terms of minerals content there is no great difference. Nevertheless, walnut is the winner in this part with high Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, slightly high Copper and Iron. On the other side, pecan is higher in Zinc.
From the viewpoint of vitamins pecan is the title-holder. Pecan is fairly higher in Vitamin B1, higher in Vitamin E and Vitamin A, and to a lesser extent higher in Vitamin B5 and vitamin K. At the same time walnut is drastically higher in Vitamin B6.
Pecan and walnut are rich in unsaturated fats, and poor in saturated fats. According to the study (1) published in September 2001 monounsaturated fatty acids, highly contained in pecan, contribute to lowering blood total Cholesterol, low density lipoprotein – bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels, diminishing by this way the risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease. On the other side, we have walnut with extremely high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly plant omega-3 and omega-6 - the highest among all the tree nuts. They also contribute to cholesterol levels decreasing, blood thinning, vasodilatation, preventing by this way thrombosis, atherosclerosis and hypertension. According to the study (2) published in July 2016, consumption of walnut oil by people with Diabetes mellitus type 2 was shown decreasing of blood glucose levels.
It is worth mentioning that walnuts and pecans are one of the most important sources of bioactive compounds such as polyphenols and vitamin E , that famous for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. According to the review (3) published in November 2017, the main polyphenol of walnuts is pedunculagin an ellagitanin. Several studies prove the role of ellagitanin against disease beginning and progression, including neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and different types of cancer.
Walnut is higher in vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine, that essential for many enzyme reactions in our organism, including processing of proteins, carbs and fats, formation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters, which ensure transmission of impulses in nervous system. Adequate intake of B6 may prevent and treat anemia and symptoms of PMS, reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk and support brain function. It also helps us to be free of depression and have a good mood. On the other corner, pecan is higher in vitamin B1 – Thiamin, which play great role in energy metabolism, also involved in transforming proteins, carbs and fats. Besides of health benefits of Vitamin B6, told above, Vitamin B1 also prevents or delays cataracts, contribute to the complete digestion by secretion of hydrochloric acid. Being a powerful antioxidant Thiamin has anti-aging properties.
In terms of minerals walnut is the winner with higher Calcium and Phosphorus, which prevent osteoporosis, also higher in Manganese and Magnesium that have antioxidant and brain boosting functions. On the other side, pecan is higher in Zinc, which contributes to good eyesight, skin, nail and hair reparation, Zinc is also crucial for sexual health due to its great role in formation of germ cells and improvement of sperm quality(4).
You are definitely sure that pecans and walnuts are super products and eager to enjoy them, aren’t you? Wait a minute, there are some dangerous moments. Above all an allergic reaction is the common side effect of pecans and walnuts as well as of other nuts. The symptoms of allergy can vary from hives around the mount, diarrhea, abnormal breathing and asthma attacks right up to the anaphylaxis.
Although pecan and walnut are recommended by dieticians as a part of different weight losing diets, if you eat more than daily recommend quantity you can easily gain the weight.
You have to avoid of taking your regular medications at the same time with black walnut. There are substances in walnuts, called tannins, which decrease the absorption of other medications. So you should to wait for another one hour or two to get your drug if you want to have an appropriate result.
And finally, you can get diarrhea and vomiting by eating large amount of nuts due to their high content of fiber.
So, it seemed essential to emphasize that walnut and pecan are a goldmine of energy and nutrients, that is why are highly recommended by dieticians and nutritionists. Both of them are rich in Unsaturated fat, pecan is richer in Monounsaturated fat, walnut is richer in Polyunsaturated fat, including plant omega -3 and omega-6 amino acids. In vitamins content pecan wins hands down, it is richer especially in Vitamin A and Vitamin E, considerably in Vitamin B1 and Vitamin B5. It is very important to point put the potential risks of allergy and missing daily medication dose, as well as overeating, which can result to the obesity or digestive dysfunctions. Enjoy your nuts and don’t forget about the measure.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugars|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable in case of diets?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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All nutrients comparison - raw data values