Walnuts vs Pecans: Which is Better For You?


Walnuts and pecans are both great snacks and to put in baked goods.

They share a lot of nutritional similarities, but also a few key differences like omega fat content.

I’ve put together this brief side-by-side comparison of walnuts and pecans to give you a detailed look at their nutritional value per 100 grams.

Nutritional Value Comparison of Walnuts and Pecans

Nuts are typically high in fat and calories, and these 2 nuts are no exception:

  Walnuts Pecans
Energy (kcal) 654.7 690.9
Protein (g) 15.2 9.2
Total Lipid (g) 65.2 72.0
Carbohydrate (g) 13.7 13.9
Fiber (g) 6.7 9.7
Sugars (g) 2.6 4.0

Depending on what you’re looking for, there are a few key differences:

  • Pecans are higher in calories (by a bit under 10%)
  • Walnuts have significantly more protein (about 66% more than pecans)
  • Pecans are slightly higher in fat and fiber

If you’re on keto you might prefer the profile of pecans, but most people would rate walnuts higher.

Omega 3 and 6 Fat Ratios of Walnuts and Pecans

When it comes to the omega 3 to 6 fat ratio of nuts, walnuts are the best.

Pecans don’t have a terrible ratio, but it’s not considered “good” either.

  Walnuts Pecans
Omega 3 Fats 8.49 0.99
Omega 6 Fats 35.7 20.60
Omega 6:3 Ratio 4.20 20.89

Current research suggests that the healthiest diets should have an omega 6 to 3 ratio of 4 or below (so walnuts just about make that cut).

With a ratio of about 21, you shouldn’t eat pecans in large quantities unless you can balance out the omega 3 fats from other foods.

Vitamins and Minerals of Walnuts and Pecans

Both of these nuts have pretty similar micronutrient profiles, as shown in the table below.

I’ve included a general RDA value for adults to be used as a reference, but note that your specific RDA may be a bit different.

  RDA Walnuts Pecans
Manganese (mg) 2.3 3.4 4.5
Thiamin (mg) 1.2 0.3 0.7
Phosphorus (mg) 700 345.3 276.8
Zinc (mg) 11 3.1 4.5
Vitamin B-6 (mg) 1.3 0.5 0.2
Magnesium (mg) 400 157.3 121.2
Folate (µg) 400 97.4 22.2
Potassium (mg) 2000 441.0 410.1
Iron (mg) 18 2.9 2.5
Riboflavin (mg) 1.3 0.2 0.1
Selenium (µg) 55 5.0 3.8
Vitamin E (mg) 15 0.7 1.4
Calcium (mg) 1200 97.4 70.7
Niacin (mg) 16 1.1 1.2
Choline (mg) 550 39.1 40.4
Vitamin K (µg) 75 2.7 3.4

While I’ve highlighted a few significant differences, there really aren’t too many:

  • Walnuts are higher in phosphorus, magnesium, and folate
  • Pecans are higher in thiamin, zinc, and vitamin E

But none of the differences are that big so unless you really want more of a particular nutrient, it’s likely not something you need to consider.

Walnuts vs Pecans: Which is Healthier?

Walnuts are healthier than pecans in most contexts. They have more protein, fewer calories, a much better omega fat ratio, and a similar amount of vitamins and minerals.

There’s not really anything about pecans that stand out above walnuts, unless you really need a bit of extra zinc or vitamin E.

Are Walnuts or Pecans Better for Weight Loss?

Neither walnuts or pecans are clearly better for weight loss. While walnuts do have slightly fewer calories, pecans have more fat and fiber that makes them a bit more filling.

Both are high in calories and should only be eaten in small quantities when trying to lose weight.

Are Walnuts or Pecans Better for Bodybuilding?

Walnuts have a significant amount more protein than walnuts, which makes them better for bodybuilding. There’s just over 15 grams of protein in 100 grams of walnuts, compared to just 9 in pecans.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.