A Comparison Of The Health Benefits And Uses Of Walnuts And Almonds
Almonds and walnuts are superfoods famed for being highly nutritious, containing beneficial minerals, vitamins and fatty acids necessary for health. As they are both a top choice, what are the differences and similarities between their benefits and uses? This article is a comparison of the two superfood.
Difference in terms of vitamins and minerals
Almonds are richer in magnesium, and vitamin E. Vitamin E helps to reduce sun damage and fights off free radicals. It improves the skin’s barrier and also provides hydration for the skin. Almonds have a lower fat content and hence a lower calorie count. Almonds also contain more protein and fiber, which makes them good for a keto diet (which we will explain later). Lastly, almonds have more magnesium and phosphorous which are beneficial for muscles and bones respectively.
On the other hand, walnut have more antioxidants that are needed to prevent cell damage. They also contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which can only be taken from food but not the human body as the human body cannot produce it. ALA is a fatty acid which is beneficial for humans as ALA helps to reduce inflammation and promotes heart and brain health. Walnuts also have more copper which is good for the growth of red blood cells and the prevention of heart illness. Walnuts also contain more manganese which helps in metabolism and is involved with the chemical processes in your body. Lastly, walnuts have more vitamin B6 which helps to alleviate mood and reduce depression.
Almost the same amount of iron and zinc.
Difference in terms of health benefits
For keto diets:
The keto diet is a diet that consists of low carbohydrates, high protein and high fiber. People on a keto diet should eat high fiber food as fiber is not easily digested, and hence does not contribute to the overall calorie count. Almonds are high fiber food and thus they can be eaten on a keto diet. As for walnuts, although they have less fiber, which is more undesirable for keto diets, they have a slightly smaller total carbohydrate content than almonds. Hence, both types of nuts are suitable to be eaten for a keto diet.
For brain health:
Walnuts definitely win in this category. They contain vitamin E, polyphenols and polysaturated fat that help to reduce damage done by free radicals and therefore reduces inflammation in the brain. This then leads to increased cognitive functions such as better memory, faster registering of facts and reduced apprehension etc.
For heart health:
There is no clear winner for this category, as both help to reduce cholesterol levels. Walnuts contain ALA which helps to dilate blood vessels and therefore lower blood pressure. Walnuts also contain polyphenols that help to prevent the inflammation of the blood vessels and reduces “bad” cholesterol levels. Lastly, phytosterols which are also compounds found in walnuts help to hinder the absorption of cholesterol by the intestines, therefore reducing total and “bad” cholesterol levels. Almonds also support heart health as the antioxidants and unsaturated acids present help to reduce the total and “bad” cholesterol levels.
For blood sugar levels:
Almonds are the winner for this category. The fat, fiber and protein present in almonds help to slow down digestion which lowers the glycemic index of almonds. Hence, the blood glucose levels are lower. Flavonoids present in almonds may also contribute to maintaining blood sugar level as they block an enzyme called amylase that converts starch to sugar. While walnuts have a relatively similar composition of chemicals and minerals, they do not have a significant effect on fasting blood sugar levels.
For weight loss:
Almonds fare better in promoting weight loss, as they help to shed visceral fats that increases the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes and heart illness. As almonds are also full of protein and fiber, they may lead to a sense of fullness and hence lowers hunger in individuals. Lastly, the human body cannot digest around 10 to 15% of calories in almonds, such as the fat calories. However, for walnuts, there are few research supporting walnuts’ positive effects on weight loss. Hence the clear winner is almond nuts.
Differences in uses:
For bakes, walnuts are usually used in bread, as they are crunchy, but not hard and they suit the soft texture of bread. On the other hand, almonds are usually baked in the form of almond cookies as they have a nutty taste that complements the butter in cookies. Almonds are also harder which suits the crunchiness of cookies. Almonds can also be blended into almond flour which can be used as a substitute for wheat flour to bake cakes and cookies. Another difference is also in the seasoning or baking of nuts. Almonds can be sold with flavouring such as smoked chili almonds, roast salted almonds, chocolate almonds and maple coconut almonds. Walnuts on the other hand, are usually not flavoured but are enjoyed by eating it plain as they have a unique taste which does not pair well with flavouring.
Similarity in uses:
As almonds and walnuts are both crunchy, they can be added to anything soft or in liquid form that would benefit from some crunch and texture. For instance, they can be added into your smoothies, cereal bowls and salads etc.
All in all, the preference for which type of nuts to consume depends on your health needs and it is hard to pick one as both nuts are highly nutritious. Overall, almonds have a longer list of nutrients available but there are nutrients in walnuts such as manganese and copper that are much higher than that in almonds. Hence, you should pick nuts that are suited to your dietary needs. We hope that this article has given you an insight of the differences and similarities between almonds and walnuts, as well as the uses of them.