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A Good Reason to Be Nuts About Walnuts

Walnuts Pack a More Potent Heart-Health Punch Than Other Nuts
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Jan 5, 2012 -- Sprinkle some walnuts on your salad this evening. Your heart will thank you.

When it comes to heart health benefits, roasted and raw walnuts rule the roost, a new study shows.

Researchers from the University of Scranton in Scranton, Pa., compared the amount of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols in nine types of roasted and raw nuts and two types of peanut butter. They also tested just how effective the antioxidants in the nuts are in regard to heart health using lab analysis.

A clear winner emerged from the nutty bunch: the walnut.

The findings appear in the journal Food & Function.

Whether roasted or raw, walnuts beat the competition. Walnuts were loaded with the highest amount of polyphenols. These compounds are believed to reduce heart disease risk by lowering levels of blood cholesterol, improving blood flow, and cooling the inflammation that’s been linked to heart disease. What’s more, nuts -- which are high in fat -- don’t necessarily lead to weight gain.

Walnuts not only have the most polyphenols, but they also have the most potent polyphenols, the researchers say.

Raw and Roasted Nut Runner-Ups

After raw walnuts, polyphenol amounts found in nuts in descending order are:  

  • Brazil nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Pecans
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Cashews
  • Hazelnuts

Among roasted nuts, the runners-up were:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios

The bottom line?  

“Nuts are a nutritious snack and food additive, providing both nutrients and ... antioxidants, which provide significant health benefits,” the study authors conclude.

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