Healthy living

Walnuts best for antioxidants

nuts Healthy heart nuts

Walnuts contain higher levels and better quality antioxidants than any other nut, scientists have found.

"Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts," said Dr Joe Vinson, at the University of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

"A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut," he said.

Dr Vinson analysed both the level and quality of antioxidants found in nine different types of nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans, and found that walnuts had the highest levels of antioxidants.

He also analysed the quality, or potency, of antioxidants present in the different nuts. Again, walnuts were found to contain better quality antioxidants than the other nuts tested. He said that the antioxidants in walnuts were two to fifteen times as potent as vitamin E, renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects which protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.

Nuts are, in general, a healthy food to eat. As well as antioxidants, they also contain high quality protein, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre. They are also dairy and gluten-free.

Consumption of small amounts of nuts has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

For those concerned about the fat content of nuts, Dr Vinson pointed out that nuts contain healthier polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats, rather than saturated fat linked to blocked arteries and heart disease. And you only need to eat around seven nuts a day to reap the health benefits of walnuts.

"There's another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants," said Dr Vinson.

"The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants. People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants."

The findings were presented at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, California.

This article was published on Mon 28 March 2011

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