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Walnut’s the top nut for heart health

health-and-fitness Updated: Jan 11, 2012 01:09 IST

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A simple way to boost your health is to start putting that holiday nutcracker to good use — walnuts, both roasted and raw, are a top nut when it comes to protecting your heart, according to new research.


Reported recently in WebMD, researchers from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, US, compared antioxidants called polyphenols in nine types of roasted and raw nuts. Using lab analysis, they also measured how effective the nuts’ antioxidants are in regards to heart health.

“Whether roasted or raw, walnuts beat the competition,” writes WebMD. They are packed with the highest amount of polyphenols that lower blood cholesterol levels, improve blood flow, and reduce inflammation —thereby reducing the risk to the heart. Also, while high in fat, walnuts don’t necessarily lead to weight gain, noted the researchers.

If you like your nuts raw, Brazil nuts ranked second in polyphenols, followed by (from highest to lowest) pistachios, pecans, peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, and hazelnuts.

Meanwhile, another recent study has found that for women, eating about two small handfuls of walnuts every day, may “significantly” curb risks of breast cancer. “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut,” said study researcher Joe Vinson, who completed a separate health study on walnuts last year.