As a Certified Health Coach informing clients about different nuts is part of my job. Since pistachios and almonds provide many nutrients some of my clients wonder if one is better. Let’s answer which is better, pistachios or almonds?
Almonds are better due to their greater percentage of minerals, fiber and vitamin E. Almonds have a better glycemic index than pistachios which means it raises blood sugar less and digests slower. Almonds have fewer carbohydrates making them better for low-carb diets.
This article will start with a side-by-side comparison of their nutrients. In addition, I’ll compare their benefits, prices, tastes, glycemic index and satiety index.
I have researched both nuts for my health coaching job and personal use. I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both prior to, during and after writing this article. They are part of my daily nutrition.
Nutritional Analysis of Pistachios and Almonds
To determine which one is healthier, we need to look at each nut’s nutrients. The below table compares the macronutrient, vitamin and mineral content of each:
|Almonds (per 100g)
|Pistachios (per 100g)
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)
|GI (Glycemic Index)
After checking the nutrients above it’s difficult to determine which is healthier. Let’s examine this a little closer and examine which one is healthier.
Almonds are healthier than pistachios due to its higher percentage fiber, vitamin E and minerals. Almonds provide more zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, riboflavin and niacin than pistachios. They have a better glycemic index and less carbohydrates which means it raises blood sugar less and takes longer to digest.
Pistachio contain more potassium, copper, iron, folate, B6, B5, vitamin A and thiamin. Both nuts have similar percentages of protein, calories and sodium.
Overall, there isn’t a large difference between them when it comes to macronutrients.
I consume both nuts almost everyday as a snack. Both of them is included in the mixed nuts I buy at the supermarket. This way I receive both of their benefits and the varied taste helps avoid boredom.
Pistachio or Almond: Which to Choose?
Both are great sources of nutrients and considered healthy. It’s difficult to argue against either one of them. Some people will alternate between the two to break the boredom. Others combine the two into a mixed nut option.
The mixed nut option is my favorite. Although it’s expensive, I purchase a big jar of mixed nuts containing both, cashew nuts and pecans. I then purchase the more affordable dry roasted peanuts and add it to the mixed nuts.
Adding the more affordable peanuts provides more variety and increases the amount of the mixed nuts saving a little money.
Occasionally They are out of my type, so I’ll buy another mix containing macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts
Some people have different goals and may want to pick one based on those goals. Let’s take a look at some.
Weight Loss and Calories
The most popular goal may be weight loss. If you want to shed some extra pounds, you may ask, which one is better for weight loss?
Almonds are better for weight loss than pistachios due to its fewer carbohydrates, sugar, more fiber and lower glycemic index. Almonds have a glycemic index of zero and pistachios 15. This combined with more fiber makes them take longer to digest, causes less sugar spikes and makes you feel full longer.
An almond does has slightly more calories than a pistachio. The seven calorie difference between the two isn’t large enough to make a difference when looking to lose weight.
Of course, either one should be consumed in moderation. Including them as part of a well-balanced nutrition plan will help gain the maximum weight loss benefits. The calories in any nut add up pretty fast by eating too many.
The doctor in the following video explains which nut is better for your health.
If your goal is to consume a low-carb diet then carbohydrates are your number one concern. If you’re on a Keto diet, you’ll want to know which has more carbohydrates.
Almonds are better than pistachios for a low-carb diet due to its less carbohydrates. Almonds contain 6.12 grams of carbohydrates per 1 ounce serving.
Another consideration for low-carb diets is the amount of fat. An almond provides 14.1 grams of fat per 1 ounce serving.
If your goal is to gain lean muscle mass there’s a good chance you’re lifting weights in the gym or at home. Let’s examine which is better for bodybuilding.
Pistachios and almonds off similar benefits for bodybuilding due to their similar number of protein, calories and carbohydrates per serving.
Protein per 1 ounce serving:
- Pistachios: 5.95 grams
- Almonds: 6.01 grams
Bodybuilders spend a lot of money on supplements. Both have a similar price per serving not giving either one the advantage.
On the days I go to the gym, I often snack on mixed nuts, containing both, as a snack on the way home.
Pistachios and almonds are naturally gluten free. In addition, both nuts can be made into flour and used as a substitute for regular flour in gluten free recipes.
My Vitamix blender can make any nut flour, check out my review here, Vitamix Venturist V1220 Review.
It seems every trip to the supermarket lately results in a higher price at checkout. Not only that but it seems I have less groceries in my shopping cart.
If you’re looking to save money, the cost of food certainly matters to most people. The price may sway your decision about which to buy as a snack option. Therefore, let’s take a close look at which one costs more.
The price of pistachios and almonds are similar per serving. The average price for whole almonds is $0.49 per 1 ounce serving. The average price for roasted pistachios is $0.48 per 1 ounce serving.
The prices for both foods vary depending on the store, location and sales offered. Therefore, to conduct original research, I searched various different stores to compare the price of both.
First I visited the Shoprite supermarket:
- Roasted pistachio (store brand)
- $6.49 per 12 oz bag (12 servings) equaling $0.54 per 1 ounce serving
- Whole almond (store brand)
- $3.69 per 6 oz container (6 servings) equaling $0.62 per 1 ounce serving
I then checked Walmart:
- Roasted pistachio (store brand)
- $6.60 per 16 oz bag (16 servings) equaling $0.41 per 1 ounce serving.
- Whole natural almond (store brand)
- $5.98 per 16 oz bag (16 servings) equaling $0.37 per 1 ounce serving
The Tastes of Pistachios and Almonds
If both nuts offer equal health benefits for you and the price is similar, you may need something extra to swing the balance. In this case, taste may be the deciding factor. So, let’s take a close look at each one.
Pistachios taste lighter and more buttery than the earthy, smokey almonds. They are both crunchy but pistachios are a little softer and not as dry.
Pistachios are hard and crunchy with a light buttery flavor emphasized when they are salted.
Almonds have an earthy, smokey and slightly woody toasted flavor. They are crunchy but can feel dry in your mouth once chewed.
To conduct some original research and get the opinions of real people like you, I decided to poll my clients, readers and people in food groups I belong to. I asked them which one do you prefer?
- 48% said they preferred the taste of an almond.
- 39% said they preferred the taste of a pistachio.
- 13% said they had no preference.
To conduct more original research I thought it would be fun to setup a taste test at home. 75% of the small group chose almonds for the better taste.
If you buy unshelled pistachios, you may find it irritating to remove the shells. In this case, you should opt for the shelled variety. An excellent idea could be to sample both and decide which one you prefer.
The following video explains how to make your own almond butter at home from almonds.
There may be times a recipe requires one nut but you only have the other one available. When this happens you may be wondering if you can substitute the one you have for the other.
Pistachios can substitute for almonds. It’s better to use unsalted than salted. When substituting either one, if the recipe calls for chopped then use chopped. It’s better to use the same type of texture like sliced for sliced, chopped for chopped or slivered for slivered.
When substituting it’s always best to use regular instead of salted or flavored.
Check out how peanuts compared in my article and find out if it is better.
The glycemic index of food is important especially if blood sugar levels are a concern. Avoiding blood sugar spikes is an important part of consuming healthy food. This is true for diabetics or anyone worrying about their health.
The Glycemic Index (GI) is a scale measuring how fast a particular food raises the blood sugar in the blood 3. Blood sugar spikes can lead to health complications with the heart, nerves, kidneys and eyes 4.
Foods on the GI scale are categorized as:
- Low-GI foods: 55 or under
- Medium-GI foods: 56-69
- High-GI foods: 70 or over
How blood sugars levels are affected:
- Foods with a glycemic index 70 or more cause a quicker spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 56 to 69 cause a moderate spike in blood sugar levels.
- Foods with a glycemic index 55 or less cause a slow spike in blood sugar levels.
Having more knowledge of the glycemic index of food and how it raises blood sugar, many people wonder, almonds vs pistachios, which one has a higher glycemic index.
Pistachios and almonds are considered low glycemic foods although almonds are lower. Almonds fall into the low glycemic index with a GI of zero. Pistachios have a GI of 15.
For this reason almonds and pistachios are good for your blood sugar.
Check out how cashew butter compared to peanut butter in my article, Cashew Butter vs Peanut Butter: Which is Better? We Compare.
Satiety is a term used to explain the loss of appetite and the feeling of being full after eating food. The satiety index is a scale showing how full a person feels after eating certain foods.
The satiety index was developed in 1995 from a study. The researchers tested 38 foods which were ranked how they satisfied a person’s hunger. Foods scoring above 100 are considered more filling and foods scoring under 100 are considered less filling 5.
The table below shows the satiety scores of snack foods noted in the study.
|Satiety Index Score
|Mars candy bar
Unfortunately, they didn’t test either one but they did test peanuts. Peanuts finished 5th out of the six snack foods listed in the table above. Even though other studies have determined pistachios and almonds are good snacks for satiety.
During a study published in 2019, 60 women consumed 44 grams of pistachios as a mid-morning snack for 12 weeks. The researchers concluded they induced satiety and the people consumed less calories later in the day 6.
In one study 42 people were given either almonds or crackers as a mid-morning snack two hours after eating breakfast. The serving sizes were equal between the two foods. The researchers found the people exhibited lower hunger and the desire to eat after eating the nuts 7.
High satiety food is likely to have a high satiety score for the following reasons:
- High in protein.
- High in fiber.
- High in volume (foods containing a lot of water or air).
- Low in energy density (foods low in calories for their weight).
The Health Benefits of Pistachios and Almonds
The nutrients in both nuts are pretty similar and therefore offer the same type of benefits. The following describes how each nutrient may benefit health.
Pistachios provided more potassium and iron. Almonds provided more magnesium, fiber, phosphorus and calcium.
Some medical experts recommend the potassium to sodium ratio of 4:1. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 8.
Potassium helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These help keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 9.
According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between low potassium levels and high blood pressure 10. The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose.
Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. Recent scientific research examined previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 11.
Magnesium helps control the following:
- Blood sugar
- Nerve function
- Blood pressure
In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 12.
One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole body including blood vessels.
The following video explains benefits of eating pistachios.
Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 13.
Calcium also helps the following:
- Helps nerve function.
- Maintain and build strong bones.
- Help the muscles to function properly.
Phosphorus has been shown in scientific studies to help with the following:
- Promote healthy nerve conduction.
- Promote bone and teeth strength.
- Muscle contraction.
- Muscle recovery.
- Help the kidneys remove waste.
- Help the body manage and store energy.
Iron is essential in the creation of red blood cells and is a necessary part of any healthy diet. Iron is also vital for growth and development, as some hormones need iron to be appropriately balanced 14.
Dietary fiber is helpful for many reasons 15. What makes fiber soluble is it dissolves in water.
Soluble fiber is known for the following:
- Manage the blood glucose levels which helps decrease the risk of diabetes.
- Helps avoid constipation and have a more regular stool.
- Help overall digestive health.
- Aids greatly in weight management because it allows you to feel full faster and eat less.
Both nuts are a good source of protein. Protein may help benefit the following:
- Reduce appetite
- Build and repair muscle
- Boost metabolism
- Weight loss
The B vitamins provided include the following:
- B1 (thiamin)
- B2 (riboflavin)
- B3 (niacin)
- B9 (folate)
B vitamins help support the following:
- Brain function.
- Red blood cells.
- Nerve function.
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Energy levels.
A lack of B vitamins has been associated with oxidative stress and neural inflammation.
In a study released in 2018 32 healthy adults were given B vitamin supplementation for six months. The results indicated preliminary evidence B vitamin supplementation reduced oxidative stress and inflammation 16.
Saturated Fat and Fat
Pistachios and almonds have a high dose of healthy fats. For this reason and more, both pistachios and almonds are heart healthy.
The presence of saturated fat doesn’t make a food automatically unhealthy. It’s the whole package of nutrients making a difference.
Even though, the amount of saturated fat per 2 tablespoons is a small percentage of unsaturated fat. This makes saturated account for only about 20% of total fat.
Slightly, almonds have a better fat profile. Saturated fat is not a negative concern with natural, healthy nuts.
The following video explains the health benefits of almonds and pistachios.
If you have any questions about this article don’t hesitate to email us. You can find an email on our contact page.
Read Next – More Food vs Food Articles!
- USDA: Nuts, almonds
- USDA: Nuts, pistachio nuts, dry roasted, without salt added
- Harvard Health Publishing: Glycemic index for 60+ foods
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Know Your Blood Sugar Numbers: Use Them to Manage Your Diabetes
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: A satiety index of common foods
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Daily Consumption of Pistachios over 12 Weeks Improves Nutrient Intake, Induces Energy Compensation, and Has No Effect on Body Weight or Composition in Healthy Women (P08-002-19)
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Evaluation of the Influence of Raw Almonds on Appetite Control: Satiation, Satiety, Hedonics and Consumer Perceptions
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis
- National Institutes of Health: Magnesium
- Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure
- National Institutes of Health: Iron
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: Mechanisms linking dietary fiber, gut microbiota and colon cancer prevention
- National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of a High-Dose Vitamin B Multivitamin Supplement on the Relationship between Brain Metabolism and Blood Biomarkers of Oxidative Stress: A Randomized Control Trial