Walnuts Rank Above Other Nuts for Antioxidant Levels
Nuts have a combination of nutritional benefits, including protein, fiber, Vitamin E, minerals, and unsaturated fatty acids, making them a healthy addition to any diet. But if you are looking for the greatest bang for your buck, walnuts have been found in a study to have a higher level of antioxidants over other nuts.
Joe Vinson PhD of the Department of Chemistry at University of Scranton in Pennsylvania presented the analysis at the 241st National Meting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California. Using a single step Folin assay, Dr. Vinson and colleagues measured free and total polyphenols in nine different types of nuts, including walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans.
“Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts,” said Joe Vinson, Ph.D., who did the analysis. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut.”
Antioxidants protect cells against the effects of free radicals, produced by normal body processes and environmental exposures. Free radicals can damage cells, and may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases.
Walnuts were also 4-15 times higher in Vitamin E than the other nuts. Walnuts are unusual in that they not only contain the most common alpha-tocopherol form of Vitamin E, but also contain gamma-tocopherol which has been found to provide significant protection from heart problems. In previous studies, walnuts improved endothelial function, lipid profiles, and blood pressure.
Approximately 90% of the phenols in walnuts are found in the skin, the whitish, sometimes waxy/flaky outermost part of shelled walnuts.
Unfortunately, recent studies suggest that most US adults have yet to discover the benefits of walnuts. Only 5.5% of adults consume tree nuts of any kind. Vinson’s research shows that nuts account for barely 8% of the daily antioxidants in the average person’s diet.
A reason many avoid nuts is because of their high caloric density. However, Vinson says that it only takes about 7 walnuts a day to get the potential health benefits found in studies. As this handful only contributes about 160 calories, more adults should include nuts, especially walnuts, to their daily diet.
Reference: American Chemical Society
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