March 30, 2011
If you’re eager to boost your body’s levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants, look no further than the walnut. It turns out that walnuts are the superheroes of the nut world, at least when it comes to content of antioxidants, which can fight the free-radical damage that contributes to cancer, heart disease, premature aging and cell death.
In a presentation to the American Chemical Society, Joe Vinson, a professor of chemistry at Scranton University, reported that a gram of walnuts contains nearly 70 units of polyphenols, a form of antioxidant — more than any of the other nuts Vinson tested. The polyphenols were also up to 15 times more potent than those found in other sources like vitamin E.
Vinson told WebMD: “Twenty-eight grams of walnuts (an ounce) have more antioxidants than the sum of what the average person gets from fruits and vegetables.”
He’s not advocating people replace their apples and spinach (both of which are also high in antioxidants) with handfuls of walnuts, but it’s worth noting that the average American could probably afford to add a few nuts to their diet: nuts account for only 8% of our daily intake of antioxidants.
Many people may have avoided nuts because they are also high in calories and fat, but experts have reported that the unsaturated fats found in nuts is not as dangerous for the heart as the saturated fats packed in meat and dairy products. And nuts are low in carbohydrates, which means they could play a role in a balanced diet for weight loss, and may even help curb hunger.
If you’re not a fan of walnuts, you can get polyphenols from other nuts. Based on antioxidant content, according to Vinson, here’s how they stack up, from highest to lowest:
While the findings haven’t been replicated yet by other researchers, they certainly suggest that walnuts might be a good source of healthy antioxidants. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut,” Vinson told MyHealthNewsDaily. “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.”