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Pecans, Walnuts, and Other Nuts That Are Good for Your Health

Pecans, Walnuts, and Other Nuts That Are Good for Your Health

Sprinkle them on steel-cut oats, chop them up and use them to crust chicken and fish, or grind them into rich, creamy nut butter and spread them on bread for sandwiches — just make sure you're eating a handful of nuts every day. Nuts are a delicious source of many essential vitamins and minerals, can help you reach you recommended intake of protein each day, and have good fats that can keep you feeling fuller longer.

Click here to see the Pecans, Walnuts, and Other Nuts That Are Good for Your Health (Slideshow)

Some nuts are better for you than others, but all contain a number of health benefits. One of the most talked-about benefits of eating nuts is that they are a good source of good unsaturated fat. Keri Gans, MS, RDN, CDN, nutrition consultant and author of The Small Change Diet, says that “most contain… primarily ‘good’ fats.” This good, unsaturated fat helps your body in a number of ways. Studies show that it improves blood cholesterol levels (which can decrease your risk of heart disease), it provides your body with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and it can take longer to digest than other foods, helping you feel fuller longer and eat fewer calories throughout the course of the day. But limit your consumption of nuts to a handful a day; nuts are high in calories, and one handful can easily provide you with up to one third of your recommended daily intake for fat.

Nuts are also a good source of protein. Whether you are following a vegan or vegetarian diet and need sources of plant-based protein, want to go meatless on Mondays, or simply want to bolster your protein intake, adding a handful of nuts can also add several grams of protein to your snack or meal. Almonds, for example, have 5 grams of protein per quarter cup — about 10 percent of the average adult’s recommended daily value.

Nuts are a good source of many vitamins and minerals, too. Though the nutritional value of each nut varies, most are good sources of B and E vitamins, which aid in a number of things ranging from brain development and function to skin health.

Ready to start adding a handful of nuts to your diet each day, but unsure which ones are best? Here are a few to try.

(Credit: Shutterstock)
Almonds are truly a superfood, and they’re very tasty to boot. Almonds are loaded with fiber, magnesium, protein, potassium, calcium, and zinc. They can also improve both heart health and blood cholesterol levels. As an added bonus, almonds help you feel fuller longer and can help you avoid consuming unnecessary (and unhealthy) calories.

Brazil Nuts


(Credit: Shutterstock)
Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which is believed to help protect again prostate and breast cancers, skin disorders, anxiety, and asthma and is crucial for thyroid health. Don’t eat too many of these, though; eating Brazil nuts in large quantities may cause selenosis, also known as selenium poisoning. Thankfully, you only need one Brazil nut each day to get the recommended daily amount of selenium.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.


The fat content in pecans and walnuts indicates their nutritional similarities. Both these nuts have good fats and a lot of essential vitamins, proteins, and minerals.

Pecans vs. Walnuts Nutrition Comparison

Pecans: Nutrition Facts

One cup of chopped pecans contains 753 calories, most of which come from fats. The saturated fat content is a modest seven grams, while the good fat forms most of the fat content in pecans. This includes good amounts of poly- and monounsaturated fats and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The same quantity of pecans contains 10 grams of protein. On the carbs front, pecans contain 10 grams of dietary fiber and low amounts of naturally present sugars.

Pecans are rich in vitamin B—choline, thiamin, B6, folate, and niacin. These nuts also have traces of vitamins A, C, E, and K. Pecans have phytosterols, which are plant-based compounds structurally similar to cholesterol and help keep up the levels of good cholesterol.

Walnuts: Nutrition Facts

One cup of chopped walnuts contains 765 calories, most of which come from fats. The total saturated fat content is just seven grams. Walnuts contain high amounts of good fats that consist of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and poly- and monounsaturated fatty acids. These good fats help increase good cholesterol and are actually good for the heart.

The protein content in the same quantity of walnuts is 18 grams. As far as carbs are concerned, walnuts have eight grams of dietary fiber and naturally present sugars. Walnuts contain a good amount of the vitamin B group, such as B6, folate, and thiamin. It also contains traces of vitamins C, E, and K. Walnuts are rich in essential minerals like manganese, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus. They also contain some amounts of iron, calcium, and potassium. They are low in sodium. Walnuts also contain phytosterols, which help manage cholesterol levels.


Are Walnuts Healthier Than Pecans?

You recommend walnuts as a good vegetarian source of omega-3, but I’ve read that walnuts are “mildly inflammatory,” as opposed to, say, pecans which have much less omega-3 but are rated as “mildly anti-inflammatory.” Which is the better trade-off?

I wouldn’t worry about slight variations in the inflammatory properties of walnuts, pecans or other nuts. These opinions are based on the fact that nuts contain omega-6 fatty acids (which are pro-inflammatory) as well as omega-3s. While you wouldn’t want them to be the only thing you eat, in general, nuts are healthy choices, and I prefer walnuts because of their better fatty acid profile. They’re a good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a fatty acid similar to the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. If you buy packaged walnuts, you may have noticed the FDA-permitted qualified health claim on the labels stating that eating 1.5 ounces daily, “as part of a low saturated fat and low-cholesterol diet, and not resulting in increased caloric intake, may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.” In 2010, a large food company ran afoul of the FDA because of label claims that walnuts could do much more, including claims that went beyond the qualified health claim the FDA permits.

A sensible guideline on the amount of nut consumption that is good for you came from the ongoing Nurses’ Health Study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the Harvard School of Public Health. That study, which is monitoring the health of 86,000 nurses, showed that those who ate more than five ounces of nuts per week (the amount you would get by eating a portion about the size of a single airline packet daily) had one-third fewer heart attacks than those who rarely or never ate nuts. I limit myself to a handful per day of my favorites – cashews, almonds and walnuts.

I also like Brazil nuts, which I eat occasionally for the selenium they contain, and pistachios. One ounce of pistachios contains more fiber than a half-cup of spinach and the same amount as an orange or an apple. These nuts also are good sources of vitamin B-6, thiamin, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium.

Enjoy nuts as part of a healthy diet. Sample a variety, avoid nut products full of salt or artificial flavorings, and don’t worry about minor nutritional differences when making your choices.


6 nuts you SHOULD eat in pregnancy

Being pregnant can bring up all sorts of issues around which foods - particularly nuts - you can and can't eat. We get expert advice from Dietitian Dr Emma Derbyshire on which nuts are actually pretty good to have when you're pregnant…

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It’s understandable if nuts are one of those foods you may not be quite sure about eating now that you’re pregnant. Over on our forum there are so many mums that are quite rightly confused as to whether they are safe to eat.

“There is so much conflicting advice (even going as far as saying different things on different pages of my week by week pregnancy book!)” says goonie_mummy. “I honestly don’t know what I should be doing.”

_Minnie09 agrees “There’s so many different opinions on this, it’s difficult to know what to do for the best!”

Official NHS advice about nuts in pregnancy

Luckily though, if you’re a nut-lover, official advice from the NHS says you can eat nuts or food containing nuts, during pregnancy (hooray!) unless you’re allergic to them or a health professional specifically advises you not to (but of course if you are at all worried you should speak to your midwife or doctor).

Dietitian Dr Emma Derbyshire, from the The Health & Food Supplements Information Service and author of Nutrition in the Childbearing Years confirms that nuts are totally fine to eat in pregnancy.

“Except of course you should obviously avoid nuts if you have an allergy,” says Dr Emma. “In the past the government advised women to avoid eating peanuts if there was any history of allergy such as asthma, eczema, hay fever or food allergies in their baby’s immediate family.

“Now, advice has been updated because there is no real evidence showing that if you eat peanuts or other nuts during pregnancy this will affect the chances of the baby having a nut allergy.”

The result is many mums on our forums have now chosen to eat nuts during pregnancy.

Chocciemoose is one such mum. “I’ve never avoided nuts during either of my pregnancies and although my new arrival is too young to be able to tell for sure whether he has an allergy, my daughter has no allergies at all.

“The thing is, anyone can be allergic to anything and so we would potentially need to avoid eating everything. I believe that to be able to build an immunity to something you need to be exposed to it.”

6 nuts you SHOULD eat in pregnancy

Bearing all of the above in mind, the great news is that if you want to keep eating nuts in pregnancy, you absolutely can. And, thinking beyond the humble peanut, there are plenty of other delicious nuts to choose from.

In particular Dr Emma recommends the following 6 nuts:

Almonds are the edible fruit of the almond tree which grow mainly in the Middle East.

They contain lots of healthy fats, fibre, protein and vitamin E.

Walnuts have amazing antioxidant qualities and omega-3 fats.

And if you like them covered in chocolate and marshmallow – we think a walnut whip every now and then is perfectly OK!

Cashews have a kind of ‘creamy’ taste and feature monounsaturated fats, including oleic and palmitoleic acids.

Cashew cream is a brilliant vegan alternative to whipping cream and has a fraction of the calories.

Pecans are a good source of manganese and copper, which helps your metabolism and can reduce inflammation.

They’re also really low in sugar (as long as you don’t buy the sugar-crusted ones!).

5. Macadamias

Macadamias are rich in monounsaturated fats which can boost heart health.

They’re low in carbs and sugar too (unless you get the chocolate-coated ones) and have a moderate fibre content.

6. Brazil nuts

Brazil nuts are a good source of the mineral selenium, a powerful antioxidant which can protect your body from all sorts of chronic conditions and support your thyroid.

“All of these choices are packed with healthy protein, fats and vitamins and minerals,” Dr Emma advises.

“As with all nuts they provide a useful fibre source which we don’t always eat enough of.

“Fibre is important for pregnancy as it can help to offset bowel issues such as constipation which can be common due to hormonal changes.”

Why nuts make nutritional sense in pregnancy

“Nuts are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids – particularly nuts like walnuts,” explains Dr Emma.

“Some nuts provide useful amounts of iron such as cashews nuts. So snacking on nuts helps fill our bodies with some of the useful nutrients we need.”

Nuts as a brilliant ‘on the go’ food

“Try peanut butter on a celery stick it’s really tasty and also one of your 5 a day!” says Broodypants on our forum.

When to avoid nuts

While there are no specific nuts to avoid during pregnancy (unless you are allergic) they are something that experts suggest we eat in moderation rather than getting through a jumbo bag of roasted peanuts every day.

“Rather than avoiding specific nuts it’s more a matter of just eating nuts in moderation as they are high in fat.

“Avoid overeating salted nuts too as the salt content can tally up – natural unsalted nuts are preferable,” says Dr Emma.

Remember to keep your pregnancy diet balanced

Finally just remember regardless of how often you have nuts in your diet the most sensible advice from experts is to just be as healthy as you can.

“The most important thing is to do your best to eat a balanced and varied diet,” says Dr Emma.

“And if your nausea and vomiting is severe and food can’t be kept down, or you feel too sick to eat or too tired to cook consider taking a specially formulated vitamin and mineral supplement which will help to top vitamin and mineral levels up.”

And if you are feeling sick some mums have even found that eating nuts can really help them: “Peanut butter with jam butty is my saviour at the moment to stop my nausea progressing into full-scale ‘head down the loo’,” says arls0308 in our forum.

“I’m even contemplating adding a banana to it – is this too wrong?!” We say – whatever makes you happy!


In Other Bone Health News…

Walnuts are also an excellent source of the following Foundation Supplements: boron, copper, and manganese. We need only minute amounts of these all too often-ignored trace minerals, but lacking them can have significant effects.

Boron is involved in bone metabolism and Vitamin D activity as it reduces the amount of urinary calcium and magnesium excretion. Copper, because it is active in an enzyme that produces connective tissue proteins – collagen and elastin – plays an important role in the development and maintenance of blood vessels, skin, bone, and joints. And manganese is necessary for the synthesis of connective tissue in cartilage and bone.


Which is Healthier? – Pecan vs Walnut

Nutritional Value in Nuts

Pecan vs walnut both are high in dietary fibre, and only a handful is required for satisfaction. They are also concentrated with omega-3 fatty acids like seafood, and they are an excellent alternative for those who can’t stand fish. Their crunchy texture and a smooth, buttery flavour add a massive amount of energy where the body needs it.

  • A concentration of monounsaturated fats like omega-3, omega-6, and fatty acids which are best for the reduction of bad cholesterol (LDL) then boosting good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. Thus they are healthy for the heart.
  • Nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant.
  • Most of the B vitamins are in nuts like riboflavin, niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, and folates, and all are vital for proper metabolism.
  • They are concentrated in minerals like copper, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.

Healthy Nut Benefits

1. Antioxidant

Pecan vs walnut both are a rich source of antioxidants, but walnuts contain more while pecans are at the bottom.

2. Fighting Diseases

The walnut fruit contains oil and supplements extracts with medicinal values to treat and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. These extracts also reduce inflammation in the body that lead to most lifelong conditions. A high walnut intake reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, most cancers diabetes, Alzheimer, and brain ageing.

3. Availability and Cost

Pecans are more pricey than walnuts in the U.S, but in other places where they are locally available, they are way cheaper than pecans. However, it is not about the price but the nutritional value that you should consider first. Pecan vs Walnut is a close contest, but the latter takes the crown with more health benefits, they are cheaper and highly available.

4. Calories

Nuts have a high-fat content, which is a huge requirement by the body as energy giving foods. The calorie content in pecan vs walnut is the same. An ounce of walnuts has 183 calories while pecans of the same size contain 193 calories.

Those trying to add weight can increase or introduce the number of nuts in their diet. It is not to say those working to lose weight should keep off nuts, but they can still have them although in small portions.

5. Fats

Pecans contain more fat when compared to walnuts. An ounce (28g) of pecans has 20.2 g of fat while walnuts have 18.3 g in the same serving of 28 g. The kind of fat produced by both nuts is the main difference between them.

Pecans contain monounsaturated fat in large amounts, whereas walnuts contain polyunsaturated, both of which have healthy body benefits. The latter is richer in omega-3 and six fatty acids than pecans.

6. Protein

In a serving of one ounce (4.3 g), walnuts contain more protein while pecans have 2.6 per more per the same serving. Although the nuts contain a lot of protein, they are not a complete source of protein, especially for vegetarians.

The human body needs protein to carry out its normal processes like tissue repair, regulating blood sugar levels, and improving moods.

7. Carbohydrates

Pecan vs walnut both have three macronutrients, including carbohydrates. A single serving of one ounce for both contains 3.8 g of carbs, half of which is from dietary fibre and 0.7 from sugars.

On the other hand, the same serving of pecans contains 3.9 g of carbs and 2.7 g is from dietary fibre, and 1.1 g comes from sugars. Besides vegetables and fruits, these nuts are ideal sources of dietary fibre.

8. Vitamins and Minerals

As an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, both pecan vs walnut both are rich in manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. Both nuts have similar nutritional profiles, especially for vitamins and minerals. Incorporating nuts in your diet is a move against dietary deficiencies.

The Health Benefits of Walnuts

They have been part of the human diet for ages, but in the modern world, they are enjoyed as a snack. You can have a mix of nuts or incorporate them in different recipes. Walnuts oil and walnut butter are made from walnuts.

They are a good source of antioxidants topping the list of over 1000 other antioxidant foods in the U.S. Foods rich in antioxidants lower the activity of free radicals in the body thus the risk of severe diseases like cancer is reduced.

Walnuts have also been known to lower harmful cholesterol levels. Thus the performance of blood vessels is improved, and they also reduce inflammation hence they are suitable for a healthy heart.

In addition to the benefits to the heart, they are also good for the brain. Some studies have shown the improvement of memory on the consumption of walnuts. They are also said to improve learning skills if consumed for ten months every day.

The Health Benefits of Pecans

Pecans support the general well-being if incorporated in a daily eating routine. They contain different antioxidants, Vitamin E, and phenolic compounds that also contain antioxidant benefits.

They are the primary ingredient in preparing pecan pie, but you can also enjoy them in different recipes. Pecans are also a good source of antioxidants, and consuming them prevents oxidative stress. Eating them increases the levels of antioxidants in the bloodstream after 24 hours of consumption.

A diet that is high in pecans changes the serum lipid in both healthy men and women. Since pecans are rich in monounsaturated fats, they are recommended for those who are trying to lower their diet cholesterol meaning they are heart-friendly. A large amount of copper in both pecan vs walnut improves brain activity among other benefits.

General Health Benefits from Nuts

  • A healthy heart from omega-3 fats and polyunsaturated fats.
  • Improve blood flow.
  • Ideal for losing or gaining weight
  • Antioxidants that slow the ageing process such as vitamin E that prevents free radicals hence lowering the chances of chronic diseases like cancer.
  • Repairs body tissues
  • Improves brain functions like memory and learning skills.
  • Strengthens bones.

Three nut types to limit with a chronic lung disease

Many people consider nuts to be a part of a healthy diet. However, the Lung Health Institute wants you to know there are certain types of nuts you should limit if you have a chronic lung disease. Our Anti-Inflammatory Initiative™, or AI2™, plans provide you with information about the nuts that are best for your chronic lung condition.

Three types of nuts chronic lung disease patients should limit

If you have a chronic lung disease, there are three types of nuts that the health care team at the Lung Health Institute recommends you limit. These three types of nuts are:

There are several reasons that you should limit these three types of nuts if you have a chronic lung condition. For one thing, all three of these nuts are lower in healthy fats than other nuts. They are also higher in carbohydrates and eating too many carbohydrates may cause you to experience higher levels of inflammation.

Better nut choices for chronic lung disease patients

Though there are some types of nuts you should limit if you have a chronic lung disease, there are others that are better for you. In fact, our health care team has included a variety of nuts into our AI2 plans that may actually help to reduce your lung tissue inflammation. Some of these good nuts are:

  • Macadamia nuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts

Even with these good nuts, our health care team recommends that you choose nuts that are in their raw form. Eating these good nuts raw will help you to get all of the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals they have to offer.

Our AI2 plans may be helpful in other ways, too

Besides providing you with information, such as which nuts are best for chronic lung disease patients, AI2 plans from the Lung Health Institute also offer other benefits. For instance, they can help you find ways to boost your immune system, which may help you avoid secondary infections that may cause your symptoms to worsen. These plans may also help you train your body to use fats as fuel to fight your lung tissue inflammation. Contact our health care team today for more information or to schedule a free initial consultation.


Pecan Recipes

Pecans can be found year-round in raw and roasted varieties. Follow these tips to prepare them as a healthy snack or as part of a meal.

Opt for raw varieties. If you're buying packaged pecans, either raw or roasted, it's best to look for those with no added sodium, sugar or other ingredients.

If you want to add flavor to your pecans, Harvard Health Publishing recommends sprinkling raw nuts with turmeric, cinnamon or cocoa powder and roasting them at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (how long you roast them for will depend on the size and number of pecans).

Store in a cool place. Because pecans have high oil content, they can easily go rancid in warmer temperatures, according to the New Mexico State University College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Shelled pecans will remain fresh for 3 months at 70 degrees Fahrenheit but can be stored for around a year at 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. In-shell pecans typically stay fresh for 4 months at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and for around 18 months at 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit.


What nuts can be substituted for pecans?

You can easily change pecans/walnuts/almonds/pistachios for walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios or macadamia nuts&hellip Vice versa. It will change the taste of course, but it will still work. Peanuts and other nuts are often substituted for cashews.

Furthermore, what nuts can replace walnuts? The nut closest to walnuts in texture and appearance is pecans, which are usually more expensive but can be substituted directly. Walnuts have a more delicate texture than most other nuts, so you may find it's necessary to chop other nuts coarsely if you're using them in a walnut recipe.

Also asked, can you substitute cashews for pecans?

If you don't have pecans, in most recipes walnuts are interchangeable in equal measure, although cooks should keep in mind that pecans have a more delicate flavor. You can also try substituting peanuts, pistachios, cashews, and macadamia nuts for chopped pecans.

Can I replace walnuts with pecans?

Often times you can use peanuts or cashews, but that really changes the flavor and sometimes they don't work well. Walnuts and pecans are similar enough to make an easy substitution either way. Pecans are a bit oilier and softer and sweeter tasting, walnuts have a bitter flavor note and are firmer.


How to incorporate pecans into a healthy lifestyle

Pecans are easy to add to your eating plan simply grab a handful! With antioxidants as well as a tender texture, rich buttery flavor and gentle crunch, pecans make an ideal snack choice for everyone.

We also love how diverse it can be as an ingredient. As I'm sure you know, pecans can be much more than just a quick snack. You can also use them: