Pecans vs. walnuts: How do they compare? (recipes included)
04/01/2022 / By Joanne Washburn / Comments
Pecans vs. walnuts: How do they compare? (recipes included)

Pecans and walnuts are among the most popular nuts on the planet. But due to their similar appearance, most people often confuse them for each other. Aside from the way they look, pecans and walnuts also share certain similarities when it comes to their nutrient content and reported health benefits.

Still, pecans and walnuts possess unique characteristics that you need to know when considering what nut to incorporate into your daily food intake.

Read on to learn more about pecans and walnuts and how they can benefit your health.

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Nutritional values and health benefits

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one ounce of pecans (roughly 19 halves) contains the following:

  • Calories: 196
  • Healthy fats: 20 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
  • Fiber: 2.7 g
  • Protein: 2.6 g
  • Potassium: 116 milligrams (mg)

Pecans are also loaded with antioxidants, which protect your cells from unstable molecules called free radicals. At very high levels, free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which can damage cells and their components. As a result, you may have an increased risk for diseases associated with oxidative stress, like cancer and diabetes.

But pecans can do more than just protect you from diseases. A study that appeared in the Journal of Nutrition showed that a serving of pecans a day can do wonders in reducing cholesterol levels, which can ultimately help prevent heart disease.

Walnuts, on the other hand, are just as impressive as pecans when it comes to their nutrient content. According to the USDA, one ounce of walnuts (roughly 14 halves) contains the following:

  • Calories: 185
  • Healthy fats: 18 g
  • Carbohydrates: 3.9 g
  • Fiber: 1.9 g
  • Protein: 4.3 g
  • Potassium: 125 mg

Walnuts are also a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acids help keep your heart healthy by slowing the buildup of plaque, which is made up of cholesterol deposits, fatty substances and other cellular waste products along your arteries. If left unchecked, plaque can harden and clog your arteries. A complete blockage can cause a heart attack.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline. As such, walnuts are great for your heart and your brain. A recent study published in the journal Nutrients found that snacking on more walnuts can help you live longer and lower your risk of dying from any cause.

It would be difficult to choose if you had to go with one nut over the other. But walnuts definitely have the advantage in the omega-3 fatty acid department. Overall, both pecans and walnuts are excellent sources of healthy fats. They also provide modest amounts of other crucial nutrients, such as protein and fiber.

Pecan and walnut recipes

If you were to close your eyes and take a bite of pecans and walnuts, you’ll notice a difference between the two. For starters, pecans are sweet and slightly buttery, which is why they are frequently used in desserts. This flavor is due to the high oil content in the pecans.

On the other hand, walnuts have a slightly bitter flavor because of their skin. But the nuts themselves are mild, earthy and a little tangy. For this reason, walnuts are often used in savory recipes.

Both pecans and walnuts can be enjoyed alone, but it’s worth incorporating them into your meals.

Pecan-walnut nut mix

This spiced nut mix is great to have on hand during the holiday season. Pecans and walnuts are the star of this mix, but it also features antioxidant-rich pumpkin seeds and inflammation-fighting cranberries.

Ingredients for 5 cups of nut mix:

  • 3/4 cup pecan halves
  • 3/4 cup shelled walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw green pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Mix the pecans, walnuts and pumpkin seeds in a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix the sugar, oil, water, chili powder and salt.
  4. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the sugar mixture over the nut mixture. Toss to coat.
  5. Spread the nut mixture evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until it browned.
  6. Add the cranberries to the bowl with the remaining sugar mixture. Toss to coat.
  7. Take out the baking sheet from the oven. Pour the cranberry mixture over the browned nuts. Roast for 12 minutes or until it turned golden brown and glazed.
  8. Let cool completely before tossing to combine. Transfer to clean jars and seal tightly.

Pecan walnut pie

This pecan walnut pie is a classic fall dessert and a must-have for any Thanksgiving table.

Ingredients for 8 servings:

  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cooked pie crust, homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted
  • 1 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for greasing
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  2. Grease a pie dish with butter. Place the pie crust in the dish. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, mix the nuts, butter, maple syrup, sugar, orange juice, flour, vanilla extract, salt and eggs.
  4. Pour the mixture into the pie dish. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the filling is set.
  5. Let cool before slicing and serving.

No matter which nut you prefer, both pecans and walnuts make healthy additions to a well-balanced diet. Add them to your meals to enjoy their health benefits.

Sources:

FoodsForBetterHealth.com

FDC.NAL.USDA.gov 1

FDC.NAL.USDA.gov 2

MindBodyGreen.com 1

MindBodyGreen.com 2

FoodNetwork.com

FabFoodFlavors.com

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