Difference Between Pecans and Walnuts

Main Difference – Pecans vs. Walnuts

The main difference between pecans and walnuts is that a walnut shell is very light brown in color and round-shaped whereas, a pecan shell is oval or oblong shaped and a darker brown in color. This is the easily identified difference between pecans and walnuts.

Nuts can be considered as an abundant source of good and healthy fat and oil. In addition, they are a rich source of carbohydrates. Amongst all the nuts, the most commonly consumed nuts are cashews nuts, peanuts, coconuts, pecans, and walnuts. Pecans and walnuts have many similarities in shape and appearance, and their taste is also somewhat similar. Furthermore, both have many health benefits. They are consumed in raw form or are used for baking cakes, cookies, brownies, pastries, or made into snacks like chocolates, porridge, pasta, stir-fries or as an additive to salads or desserts. As a result of the similar characteristics of pecans and walnuts, both cannot be clearly distinguished by the ordinary consumers. However, the main difference between pecans and walnuts is that a walnut shell is  very light brown in color and round-shaped whereas, a pecan shell is oval or oblong shaped and a darker brown in color. This is the easily identified difference between pecans and walnuts. There are some other differences between walnut and pecan as well. This article will introduce you to pecans and walnuts and explain the difference between pecans and walnuts.

What are Pecans

Literally meaning of the word pecan is, ‘a nut that needs a stone to crack it because it is too hard to be cracked by hand.’ This nut is originated in Mexico. The pecan seeds are edible, and they can be consumed in raw form or used in cooking, mainly in sweet desserts such as toffees, chocolates, etc. In addition, pecan seed, the pecan tree wood is used in the production of furniture, wood flooring and flavoring firewood for smoking meats. The US is the world biggest pecan producer and accounts for 80% and 95% of the world’s production.  Pecans are a rich source of dietary fiber, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and thiamin. They are also a rich source of protein, iron and B vitamins. Their fat content is comprised mainly of the monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, and the polyunsaturated fat, linoleic acid. However, pecans also have very little amount of omega 3 fatty acid. Peanuts are available in a variety of sizes such as mammoth, extra-large, large, medium, small and midget. In addition, they are also available in several forms such as whole pecans, pecan halves, pieces, granules, and meal.

Main difference - Pecans vs Walnuts

What are Walnuts

A walnut is a nut that belongs to the genus Juglans and family Juglandaceae. Pecans are used in food after it fully ripened; it is usually roasted before consumption. But, raw pecans (green in color) are used for pickles. The walnut is nutrient-dense with protein and essential fatty acids. During this ripening process, the husk will become fragile and the shell hard. The two most common species of walnuts are the Persian/English walnut and the black walnut. The black walnut is rich in high flavor, but due to its hard shell it is not commercially cultivated. Therefore, nutmeat of the black walnut from the Juglans nigra is less commercially available. China is the world’s biggest producer of walnuts. Walnuts are also considered to be healthy for human health because of high omega 3 content and highest antioxidant content. Walnuts can be eaten in their raw, toasted or pickled form or used as an ingredient such as walnut cake, and chocolates. Commercially available walnut oil is mainly used as a food ingredient, particularly in salad dressings.

Difference Between Pecans and Walnuts

Difference Between Pecans and Walnuts

The differences between pecans and walnuts can be divided into following categories. They are; 

Shell Colour

Pecans are darker brown in color.

Walnuts are very light brown in color.

Shell Shape

Pecans are oval or oblong shaped.

Walnuts are round-shaped.

Hardness

Pecans are harder, and a stone is needed to crack the shell.

Walnuts are not hard compared to pecan

Nut Shape

Pecans are elliptical or elongated, with long, deep edges traveling along the length of the nut

Walnuts look like a human brain in shape. They are larger and broader than the pecans

Taste

Pecans taste sweeter and drier compared to walnuts

Walnuts have a bold, somewhat bitter flavor leaving an oily feel inside the mouth or tongue. Therefore, walnuts are frequently roasted before consumption.

Fat Content

Pecans have low oil content compared to walnuts. In addition, pecans contain more monounsaturated but less polyunsaturated fats than walnuts.

Walnuts are rich in unsaturated fat such as mono and polyunsaturated fats. It is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid (14%) and linoleic acid (58%), although it does contain oleic acid. These mono and polyunsaturated fats are responsible for lowering blood cholesterol levels, promoting heart health,  good for preventing cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

Protein Content

Pecans have somewhat lower protein content compared to walnuts.

Walnuts have somewhat higher protein content compared to pecans.

Dietary Fiber Content

Pecans contain higher dietary fiber content than walnuts. As a result, pecans contribute to stimulating early satiety and helps in weight reduction.

Walnuts have somewhat lower dietary fiber compared to pecans.

Mineral Content

Pecans have slightly higher manganese content than walnuts.

Walnuts have somewhat higher sodium, potassium and copper content compared to pecans.

Vitamin E Content

Pecans have slightly higher vitamin E content than walnuts.

Walnuts have somewhat lower vitamin E content compared to pecans.

Antioxidant Content

Pecans contain slightly higher manganese content than walnuts.

Walnuts contain the highest amount of antioxidants amongst all the nuts including pecans. Therefore, walnuts are important for preventing various non-communicable diseases including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Price

Pecans are less expensive compared to walnuts.

Walnuts are more expensive than pecans.

Other Applications

Pecans are not used as ink or dye. Pecan tree wood is used in the production of furniture, wood flooring and flavoring firewood for smoking meats.

The black walnut husk is used to create ink for writing and drawing or to make a dye for fabric.

Pecans vs. Walnuts Summary:

In conclusion, both pecans and walnuts have different physical properties, as well as some different nutritional values. These nuts provide numerous health benefits to the body and are considered to be beneficial to the human heart. This is mainly due to their healthy fat content. They both contain mono – and poly – unsaturated fat, which has been an identified to lower cholesterol level. Thus, walnuts and pecans are rich in nutrients, and both should be incorporated into your daily diet.  Difference Between Pecans and Walnuts - infographic

References:

Allen V. Barker; D. J. Pilbeam (2007). Handbook of plant nutrition. CRC Press. pp. 399–. ISBN 978-0-8247-5904-9. Retrieved 17 August 2010.

Donald E. Stone et al. “New World Juglandaceae. II. Hickory Nut Oils, Phenetic Similarities, and Evolutionary Implications in the Genus Carya”. American Journal of Botany (Botanical Society of America). JSTOR 2440634.

Paul Manos and Donald E. Stone (2004), Evolution, Phylogeny, and Systematics of Juglandaceae, Annals of the Missouri Botanical Gardens (Missouri Botanical Garden Press), Vol. 88 (No. 2)

Sherrow, Victoria (2006). Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 267, 355. ISBN 9. Retrieved 3 July 2014.

USDA Pecan Breeding Program, National Clonal Germplasm Repository for Pecans and Hickories”. TAMU Horticulture Dept. Retrieved 21 Nov 2014.

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