Almonds are healthy. Walnuts are healthy. They’re both crunchy, fatty nutritional powerhouses. But which is better?
(Hint: That kinda depends on your wellness goals, doesn’t it?)
Grab a bag of trail mix and pull up a chair. Let’s get down to the nutty-gritty.
They provide similar amounts of calcium and potassium and their nutritional profiles are *nearly* a perfect match.
This table shows how an ounce of unsalted walnuts compares with the same amount of unsalted almonds.
|Protein||4.3 grams (g)||6 g|
|Fat||18.5 g||15 g|
|Carbs||4 g||6 g|
|Fiber||2 g||3 g|
|Phosphorus||8 percent of the daily value (DV)||11 percent of the DV|
|Magnesium||11 percent of the DV||19 percent of the DV|
At first glance, almonds come with slightly better mineral and macronutrient content.
Still, there’s one nutrient not on the table: omega-3s. Walnuts are practically bursting with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a common omega-3 fatty acid. According to research, walnuts are the *most* antioxidant-rich nut on the planet.
Research has suggested ALA intake may result in better heart and brain health. #WinForWalnuts
TBH, almonds and walnuts are kind of a power couple. There’s no loser here.
Eating nuts of any kind can be helpful for:
- blood sugar management
- heart health
- brain boosts
- a healthy weight loss journey
- packing in maximum nutrients in a small snack
Here’s how almonds and walnuts stack up, depending on your health goals.
When you want a brain boost…
These nuts are nature’s perfect little neuroprotective snack: full of antioxidants, vitamin E, and zinc, specifically.
Science suggests that people should start working to prevent dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases earlier in life. Eating foods full of antioxidants and other brain-nourishing compounds may help you preserve brain function and stave off memory loss.
In one 2015 study, researchers found that folks who ate more walnuts had better memory and faster reaction times — regardless of age.
So, what about almonds? They’re healthy too — even performing well as a memory enhancer in rat studies — but they can’t catch up to walnuts’ antioxidant content.
When you’re bulking up…
If your heart’s set on gym #gainz, you probably already know to focus on protein. Protein repairs and rebuilds the muscle tissue you shred and stretch during workouts.
In a bodybuilding face-off, almonds have a *slight* edge. They clock in at 6 grams of protein per ounce. Walnuts have just 4 grams.
When you’re pumping iron, healthy fats are also a critical source of energy. Walnuts offer up 18.5 grams versus almonds’ 15 grams per ounce.
So which matters more, protein or fat?
In a study of elite bodybuilders’ nutrition habits, researchers found that most competitors ate a high protein, low fat diet. Top performers also ate slightly more carbs. Since almonds have more carbs than walnuts, there’s a clear top dog.
When you’re on a weight loss journey…
Nuts have high fat content, so you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re bad news for weight loss. Science says otherwise.
Long-term research suggests that noshing on nuts regularly may *lower* your risk of obesity.
In one study of 86 dieting adults, those who incorporated more almonds tended to lose more weight — and belly fat in particular.
There are a few factors at play here:
- Nuts are super filling, so feeling more satisfied might lead to less snacking.
- Nuts are full of unsaturated fats, which may support weight loss.
- Almonds have super-strong cell walls that hold some of the nuts’ fat inside, keeping your body from absorbing all those calories.
FWIW, one study *does* indicate that eating an ounce of walnuts per day also contributes to greater weight loss. In general, there’s just more research on how almonds can support slim-down efforts.
For peeps on the keto train
The ketogenic diet goes like this: Oodles of fat, barely-there carbs. It usually breaks down to about 60 percent fat, 30 percent protein, and 10 percent (or less) carbs.
Lots of folks on keto eat nuts. What you’re looking for is a nut with a low net carb count — that’s total carbs — fiber content.
An ounce of almonds has more fiber than an ounce of walnuts. But in the end, walnut’s net carb tally is lower: 2 grams per ounce vs. almond’s 3 grams per ounce.
TBH, that’s a pretty small difference. Both almonds and walnuts are healthy and keto-friendly in moderation.
For alllll the omega-3s
Remember, omega-3s are unsaturated fatty acids that keep several systems in your body running smoothly.
- immune system
- cell health
You want to keep ‘em topped up especially if you’re concerned about heart probs later in life.
By the way, almonds have antioxidants too. They’re packed with plant compounds that work together to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and fight off obesity, heart disease, and more. Walnuts just happen to have more omega-3s — specifically, ALA.
Well, sure! Nuts are all generally healthy, but everybody has different needs.
Some reasons almonds or walnuts might not work for you:
- Nut allergies. Researchers have found that about 12 percent of peeps who had an allergic reaction to one tree nut were also allergic to other tree nuts. So if you’re allergy-prone, check with your doc before noshing on almonds or walnuts for the first time. Better safe than sorry.
- Anti-nutrients. Nuts contain phytic acid, which can temporarily impair how your body absorbs important minerals like zinc, iron, and calcium. Noshing on nuts all day, erryday could theoretically increase your risk of a mineral deficiency.
- Potential calorie overload. Almonds and walnuts are tiny but mighty. They have a lot of calories. They’re also full of fats (the healthy kind!). If you eat too many nuts and don’t manage your overall calorie intake, walnuts and almonds could lead to weight gain.
No matter which tree nuts you like, they’re probably pretty good for you.
Here’s how walnuts and almonds stack up against their cashew cousin. Let’s crunch the numbers.
|Protein||4.2 g||4.3 g||6 g|
|Fat||13.6 g||18.5 g||15 g|
|Carbs||9 g||4 g||6 g|
|Fiber||>1 g||2 g||3 g|
Cashews’ nutritional benefits aren’t far off from those of almonds or walnuts.
Still, there are slight differences, including:
- Almonds still offer more brain boosts. Cashews are packed with healthy plant compounds, but they’re no match for almonds’ vitamin E content.
- Almonds still have more protein. Cashews aren’t a bad snack for bodybuilders, but almonds have a slight edge in the protein department.
- Cashews are a solid slim-down snack. Cashews are lower in calories and fattier, making them a great choice for weight management or weight loss.
- Keto nuts, pass on the cashews. Cashews have a higher net carb count than almonds and walnuts.
- Walnuts are winning the omega-3 race. Cashews and almonds both offer a hefty dose of omega-3 fatty acids. Still, walnuts come out on top every time. Geddem, walnuts!
Whether you’re building muscle, losing weight, or just happy to be here, crunching more tree nuts is an excellent goal. A handful of walnuts (or almonds or cashews) a day may keep the doctor away!
Walnut recipe inspo
Sure, you can smash them by the handful. By why nut try one of these recipes?
- Gluten-free cranberry walnut oatmeal cookies
- Spinach salad with raspberries and candied walnuts
- Healthy rosemary toasted walnuts
- Parmesan herbed walnuts
Almonds recipe inspo
Spiced, roasted, or candied… these almond recipes are delicious and nut-ritious.
Almonds and walnuts are both nutritional powerhouses.
Walnuts are great for your brain and heart. Almonds might be better for weight loss or muscle gain. Both almonds and walnuts are a healthy snack for folks on the keto diet.
There’s no way to say which nut is healthier because it depends on your nutrition needs and wellness goals. So grab a handful of whichever nut you like best, and enjoy!