Pecans Vs. Walnuts – From almond to macadamia to pistachio, nuts are amongst the most loved fruits. Most of these nuts are used in the culinary scene, both commercial and households. While some are eaten raw, and you will see it being sold largely in stores and the market, fancily covered in a bottle or wrapped in a plastic.
A Comparison of Pecans Vs. Walnuts
Two of the most popular nuts that are imported and exported around the globe are pecans and walnuts. These two have a lot of similarities, which is why regular consumers find it hard to distinguish their difference.
Hence, let’s take a closer look at the difference of pecans vs. walnuts, specifically their appearance, taste, and nutritional content. Between pecans vs. walnuts, which do you think is better? You be the judge.
Coming from the species hickory, the pecan tree is native to the Southern U.S. and Mexico. It is grown by people to function as a shade tree and produce delectable nuts. The “pecan” name is from the Algonquian language referring to the meaning of any nut that is required to be cracked open using a stone.
Technically, like all the fruits belonging to the hickory genus, a pecan is considered a drupe. (A drupe means a fruit with one lignified stone (or pit) that is surrounded by a husk.)
On the other hand, the walnut is from the Juglans genus. Same as with pecans, a walnut is considered as a drupe nut, and not a real botanical nut. Grown for their seeds, the walnut has two major species: black walnut (native to eastern North America) and English walnut (originating in Persia).
The black walnut, although it is high in flavor, is not widely commercialized due to its extremely hard shell. It is important to note that walnuts must be properly processed and stored for fungal mold infestations and insect prevention. A nut that is mold-infested must be discarded.
To differentiate pecans from walnuts and vice versa, you should know about the unique characteristics that each possesses. A pecan’s shell is really hard that it needs to be opened with a stone, unlike a walnut where its shell where it is less hard. Pecans outer shell color is dark brown, and shape is oblong/oval, while the walnut is light brown and round.
When it comes to the nuts inside, you’ll find that pecans are sweeter and drier, while walnuts are somewhat bitter and oily. Due to the oily feel walnuts give off, they are usually roasted before being consumed.
The shape of a pecan’s nut, like its outer shell, is as well elongated or elliptical. Meanwhile, the walnut’s nut appears to look like a human brain, and it is broader and larger than the pecans.
In the food scene, pecans are either sold and consumed raw or used in cooking. They are mainly added to sweets like chocolates, cakes, and toffees. The woods of pecans are utilized to make wood flooring and other furniture and as flavoring fuel for meat smoking. On the contrary, walnuts have several nonfood uses.
They are used for folk medicine, inks and dyes, and cleaning. As a food, these nuts are sold and consumed in their raw, pickled, and toasted form. They are also used as ingredients for a lot of dishes like desserts (e.g., chocolate and walnut cake).
Furthermore, a walnut’s oil is commercially produced and utilized as a food ingredient like in salad dressings.
Pecans are high in monosaturated fat and less in polyunsaturated fats due to its low oil content. Its protein is lower than walnuts but higher in dietary fiber—which makes it good for weight reduction and stimulating early satiety.
With its vitamins and minerals, it is slightly higher in vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, niacin, folates, zinc, selenium, manganese, iron, and copper, while highest in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
A walnut is rich in both unsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Its dietary fiber is somewhat lower than pecans, omega 3 content is higher, and antioxidant content is the highest amongst all the nuts, which makes it good for cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease prevention.
Vitamin and mineral content-wise, it is slightly higher in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.
Both nuts vary in their physical appearance, taste, uses, and nutritional content. However, we can conclude that there is no clear winner between pecans vs. walnuts as both are nutritious/healthy for your body. One of their major benefits is their healthy fat content, which makes it good to be included in your daily diet.
See also: Black Beans Vs. Pinto Beans