For their role in heart and cardiovascular health, walnuts have received a great deal of attention in recent years. However, they aren’t the only healthy nut option around. When it comes to nutrition, pecans can go toe-to-toe with walnuts in the way they protect the heart and mind, support weight loss, and promote weight management. In fact, pecans may even have the edge over walnuts as the healthier nut…
Pecans vs Walnut Breakdown
In one corner, we have pecans. In every ounce, or about 19 pecan halves, you consume just under 200 calories. That same ounce delivers nearly 27% of your recommended daily intake of heart healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. A single ounce serving of pecans is low in carbs weighing in at 3.93g, or about 1% your daily value. One ounce does, however, provide 5% of your daily protein recommendation. Plus, pecans are also loaded with vitamins A, B, and E, potassium, magnesium, immune-boosting zinc, and powerful antioxidants.
In the other corner, we have walnuts. One ounce of walnuts has 185 calories, 24% of your unsaturated fats with heart-protecting omega-3 fatty acids, 3.89 carbs per ounce, and a whopping 9% of your daily protein. Like pecans, walnuts feature vitamins A, E, and B vitamins like folate. They’re also mineral rich with important antioxidants.
Nutritional Facts: Head to Head
How do pecans and walnuts stack up head-to-head? Walnuts get a lot of press, but I think you’ll see nutrient for nutrient, pecans have the edge. Here’s a table to help you decide for yourself.
|Nutrient||Walnuts (14 halves)||Pecans (19 halves)|
|Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid||0.4mg||0.3mg|
|Vitamin A, RAE||0µg||1µg|
|Vitamin A, IU||6IU||16IU|
|Vitamin D (D2 + D3)||0µg||0µg|
|Fatty acids, total saturated||1.737g||1.752g|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated||2.533g||11.567g|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated||13.374g||6.128g|
Health Benefits of Nuts
Raw walnuts, pecans, and even chestnuts deliver the highest value of antioxidants of the edible nuts. With their vitamins and minerals, they make for a nutritious snack loaded with amazing benefits for your health. The Harvard Gazette reported men and women who ate these and other healthy nuts daily were 20% more likely to live longer and were more slender and trim than those who didn’t.  Here’s what they can do for you:
- Protect your heart with omega-3s and polyunsaturated fats.
- Improve blood flow.
- Support weight loss and staying thin. 
- Slow aging antioxidants like vitamin E prevent free radical damage.
- Discourage inflammation.
- According to some studies, nuts may slow the spread and maybe even the formation of breast cancer. 
- Researchers at UC-Davis suggests the omega-3s in walnuts along with other of its nutrients may offer some protection against prostate cancer. 
- Supply your brain with essential nutrients to stay sharp as you age.
- Keep your bones strong.
One Final Thought
When it comes to pecans or walnuts, you can’t go wrong. They make healthy snacks (or pies!) and add flavor to any meal. They’re both loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty elements that nourish your body and support healthy weight as compared to processed foods. Lastly, vegetarians and vegans can get the protein they need by eating these healthy nuts daily.
- Blomhoff R1, Carlsen MH, Andersen LF, Jacobs DR Jr. Health benefits of nuts: potential role of antioxidants. Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov;96 Suppl 2:S52-60.
- Harvard Gazette. Nut consumption reduces risk of death. Harvard Gazette.
- Gemma Flores-Mateo, David Rojas-Rueda, Josep Basora, Emilio Ros, and Jordi Salas-Salvadó. Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr ajcn.031484. doi: 10.3945/?ajcn.111.031484.
- Coco Ballantyne. Walnuts ward off breast cancer in mice. Scientific American.
- Paul Davis. ‘Tis the season to indulge in walnuts. UC Davis Health System.
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One thought on “Healthy Nuts: Pecans vs Walnuts”
Great article. Funny the last week or so I’ve been having 4 or five plain pecan halves as a snack (instead of other unhealthy options), I’m really getting into them. I do like walnuts too but pecans don’t have that aftertaste to me. Interesting, thanks.