You have probably heard by now that nuts are healthy for you. Do you prefer walnuts or almonds? They are not the same thing, and each one brings its own set of nutrients and benefits.
Stay tuned to find out what are the differences between almonds vs. walnuts. You can learn more about these two foods and what their benefits are.
What Are Walnuts?
Walnuts are the seed of the tree from the family of Juglans. Although considered a nut, walnuts are technically seeds. When ripe, you discard the shell, and the inside is the edible part.
The best time of the year to harvest walnuts is the period between September and November. There are two common walnuts, Persian or English, and black walnut. You will often find walnuts sold unshelled and separated into smaller pieces.
Walnuts, like other nuts, can be consumed raw, but you can also toast them. You will likely also see them in foods, such as trail mix, cereals, pies, cakes, and more. Because they add density, they might also be part of thickening in sauces or coating.
You might also find walnut oil used as an alternative to vegetable oil, which is considered a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega 3 and 6. Walnuts also contain some fiber and protein, along with vitamins and minerals. In some cases, they have over 20% of the daily value (DV) of micronutrients.
Walnuts also contain phytochemicals that are naturally-occurring substances in foods of plant origin. These chemicals might have some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, they are also known to stain and can cause skin irritation.
Although walnuts have a long shelf life, they must be stored in low humidity because they can turn rancid quickly. Any humidity above 70% will speed up the spoilage. Funghi can grow fast in walnuts and cause dangerous toxicity levels for humans.
One oz serving size of 14 halves of walnuts (28.35 g) has the following nutritional content (*):
- 185 calories
- 1.15 g water
- 4.31 g protein
- 18.5 g fat
- 3.88 g carbohydrate
- 1.9 g fiber
- 0.74 g sugar
- 27.8 mg calcium
- 0.825 mg iron
- 44.8 mg magnesium
- 98.1 mg phosphorus
- 125 mg potassium
- 0.567 mg sodium
- 13.4 g polyunsaturated fatty acids
Are Walnuts Healthy?
Walnuts are a healthy snack, and they contain a good amount of protein and polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega 3 and 6. They are also somewhat high in fiber, which helps promote healthy digestion. Eating walnuts for a snack can be a strategy to stay full and promote weight management.
As with other tree nuts, this one can be relatively high in saturated fats. It is best to limit your intake to one portion size at a time, which is about 12 halves. Going overboard with walnuts can happen quickly, and it will add unnecessary calories and fat to your diet.
The omega 3 in walnuts is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This essential fatty acid is highly anti-inflammatory and is associated with a lower risk for heart disease(*). Most Americans do not consume enough omega 3, but eating walnuts can meet all the requirements.
As we mentioned before, walnuts also contain polyphenols. The specific plant compound that acts as an antioxidant here is the ellagitannin. This compound is a powerful phytochemicals that can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses(*).
Since walnuts are high in fat, protein, and fiber, they can be filling. They are also absorbed more slowly, which can lower your risk for type 2 diabetes and high blood sugar or hyperglycemia. Consuming walnuts and any walnut products are a good alternative if you already have diabetes.
Finally, walnuts are easy to get and affordable. You can add them to your diet as a snack, salad, or dessert. Be sure to measure how many you choose to eat, only the portion size.
What Are Almonds?
The almond is a native tree to west Asia. However, the name commonly refers to the seed of the tree that is edible. Like walnuts, almonds also have an outer shell to peel off and eat the inner seed. They are not a true nuts, but you will see their classification as one.
Some almonds are sweet, and some are slightly bitter. The bitter kind contains cyanide, which is a poison. The bitter almond oil extract is effectively banned, although it was used before for medicinal purposes.
Almost all almonds sold today are the sweet kind. Production has increased immensely, particularly in the United States, Spain, and Australia. Almonds have become popular because they can become almond butter, milk, flour, cookies, pastries, and more.
Almonds contain a high carbohydrate, protein, and fat content. They are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and B vitamins. Like walnuts, this nut is also high in polyunsaturated fatty acids.
You might also see commercial almond oil because it has both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. It is also highly rich in vitamin E, containing over 200% of the DV for this vitamin. The oil is not just for culinary purposes. It is often a cosmetic ingredient or part of aromatherapy.
Storing this nut safely is very important because it can grow aflatoxin-producing mold. These toxins are highly carcinogenic and dangerous. In some cases, the mold might come directly from the soil, which is why almond production has to be tightly regulated.
One serving size of 1 oz (28.35 g) has the following nutritional content (*):
- 172 calories
- 0.663 g water
- 5.76 g protein
- 15.3 g fat
- 5.78 g carbohydrate
- 3 g fiber
- 1.34 g sugar
- 73.7 mg calcium
- 1.03 mg iron
- 76.8 mg magnesium
- 130 mg phosphorus
- 196 mg potassium
- 0.851 mg sodium
- 3.91 g polyunsaturated fatty acids
Are Almonds Healthy?
Almonds are a healthy snack and source of protein and polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are also high in vitamins and minerals, adding to your daily needs. Having almonds as a snack, in a smoothie, or in cereal is a good idea.
Raw or roasted almonds are extremely nutritious. They contain fiber, protein, fat, vitamin E, manganese, magnesium, vitamin B2, and phosphorus. A handful also provides a few calories and gives you lots of energy.
Like walnuts, almonds also contain antioxidants. They are particularly high in tocopherol, which has been shown to reduce the risk for neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, and cancer(*). Eating almonds can help lessen damage to your cells and nerves.
Just like walnuts, almonds are also proven to help lower blood sugar and protect against the risk of type 2 diabetes(*). Part of the reason is how high almonds are in fat, protein, and magnesium. They are also absorbed much slower than other foods, so eating them is safe if you already have diabetes.
Almonds are also great for your heart because they are proven to lower LDL cholesterol, which is the one that clogs your arteries. As if that was not enough, they also help raise HDL cholesterol, the good kind that helps move cholesterol away from your body. Eating 1 to 2 oz of almonds can help keep your arteries clean and lower your risk for heart disease(*).
Finally, since almonds keep you full longer, they promote weight management and loss. You can eat them often as a snack, in your cereal, yogurt, almond butter, or milk form. Adding a handful to your day is a good strategy to keep you full throughout the day.
What Are The Key Differences Between Walnuts and Almonds?
As you can see, walnuts and almonds share similarities, but they are not the same.
On the one hand, walnuts come from the Juglans family of trees. While almonds come from the almond tree.
Nutritionally, these two nuts are not the same. Walnuts are a bit lower in fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Almonds contain more fat, protein, and about the same amount of carbohydrates.
In terms of micronutrients, both foods are high, but not the same ones. Walnuts contain calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and a low amount of some vitamins. Almonds contain calcium and phosphorus and are high in magnesium and potassium, vitamin E, and B vitamins.
The content of essential fatty acids varies as well. Surprisingly, walnuts contain more ALA or omega 3 than almonds. This makes walnuts a better source of omega 3 than consuming the other nut.
When it comes to fiber, these two nuts contain a good amount of it. However, walnuts have a lower fiber content per portion size than almonds do. This makes almonds a better choice for staying full and keeping your gut healthy.
To finish, in terms of general fat content, almonds are a bit lower. Both of these nuts are a good source of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fatty acids. If you want to stay on a low-fat diet, almonds are a better choice. Otherwise, walnuts work for the opposite purpose.
|Cultivation||China, Iran, the US, Turkey, and Mexico||United States, Spain, Italy, and Australia|
|Protein||4.31 g protein per oz||5.76 g protein per oz|
|Taste and Aroma||Walnuts can be tangy and buttery in flavor. They smell a little sweet but can turn rancid quickly||Almonds taste sweet, salty, and slightly smoky. They smell sweet and slightly bitter|
|Uses||Can be part of snacks, trail mix, granola, desserts, and smoothies||Can be used in desserts, drinks, milk, butter, or for cosmetics and aromatherapy|
|Cost||$6.99 to 9.99 per pound||$7.50 to 10.99 per pound|
|Calories per 1 oz serving||185 calories||172 calories|
Are Walnuts or Almonds Healthier?
These two nuts are very healthy and nutritious. They can be a great snack or addition to your daily routine. However, they both have different health benefits.
Walnuts are considerably higher in omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. However, they also contain higher saturated fat content and are lower in protein and fiber. They are still a good choice, but this is something you should consider.
Almonds can be the healthier choice because they are lower in omega-3 fatty acids but contain more nutrients. This food is a healthy source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, as well as fiber and protein. You can choose almonds whenever you want, but walnuts are a good second choice.
If you are faced with the choice of walnuts vs. almonds ever again, now you make an educated decision. These two foods are very similar in many aspects, but they are ultimately not the same. Choose each one depending on what you want to get from it and enjoy healthy food nonetheless.
*Photo by itor115.gmail.com/depositphotos
*Photo by oykuozgu/depositphotos