Walnuts are the healthiest of all the nuts when it comes to heart-healthy nutty super foods, research has shown. The Christmas favorites are packed with more potent and abundant antioxidants than any other popular nut, as well as healthy fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Tree and ground nuts are generally said to be among nature's most perfect ready-made foods. Not only do they have all the nutritious elements necessary for a healthy diet; they also contain high levels of protective antioxidants which counter the effects of harmful molecules.
Research suggests regular consumption of nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and type-2 diabetes. But until now it has not been clear which nut is number one in terms of health giving properties.
To answer this question, scientists analyzed the antioxidant content of nine different types of nut: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans. Study leader Dr Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, US, said: "Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts.
"A handful of walnuts contain almost twice as much antioxidant as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. But unfortunately, people don't eat a lot of them. This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet."
Dr Vinson's team found that walnuts not only had more antioxidants than other nuts, but more powerful antioxidants. Those in walnuts were between 2 and 15 times more potent than vitamin E, renowned for its antioxidant properties.
The findings were presented at the 241st national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.