Walnuts – The Healthiest Nut for Your Heart

You may have avoided eating nuts for fear of putting on weight, but a new scientific study gives walnuts a strong recommendation as they have a combination of more healthful antioxidants and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut.

A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other popular nut such as peanuts or almonds. Also, nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits as they contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and are dairy- and gluten-free.

Years of research by scientists worldwide link regular consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter with decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, Type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

The researchers compared both the amount and quality of antioxidants found in nine different nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias, and pecans.

Walnuts not only had the highest levels of antioxidants but also the highest potency, of antioxidants. They are 2-15 times as potent as vitamin E, renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects that protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease.

Another reason that walnuts are so healthy is that are eaten raw, unlike other nuts which are heated which generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants, so you get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants.

If it is the dietary aspect that has kept you from eating nuts, and they are it is true high in fat and calories, but nuts contain healthful polyunsaturated and monosaturated fats rather than artery-clogging saturated fat. As for the calories, eating nuts does not appear to cause weight gain and even makes people feel full and less likely to overeat. In a 2009 U. S. study, nut consumption was associated with a significantly lower risk of weight gain and obesity.

What’s the maximum healthy snack size to get your daily dose of antioxidants? Apparently it is seven, and think of the extra calories you will expend in cracking the shells!

How to substantially lower your risk of AMD

June 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Healthy Ageing


Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in the over 60′s. You lose that sharpness of vision you need for everyday tasks like driving and reading and it can result in total blindness.

Two new studies now offer hope that this decline is not inevitable and there is an easy preventive measure anyone can take. The University of Sydney’s Westmead Hospital’s researchers undertook a ten year study and found that eating more fish, nuts, olive oil and foods containing omega-three fatty acids may significantly lower the risk for AMD, particularly if you also avoid trans-fats in your diet.

The researchers found that eating just one serving of fish each week was associated with a 31 percent lower risk of developing early AMD and if you include just one to two servings of nuts a week then there was an increase to a 35 percent lower risk of early AMD. Olive oil is the real key here though as it provides even better protection than the fish. The optimum amount for benefit is over 100 ml a week.

I have long extolled the virtues of the Mediterranean diet, and this is pretty much what this is advocating. In this case the benefits come from the fact that these ‘healthy’ fatty acids may protect the eyes by preventing the buildup of plaque in the arteries and by reducing inflammation, blood vessel formation and oxygen-related cell damage in the retina.

The research also highlighted who was most likely to have late-stage AMD and that turned out to be those who ate the most trans-fats. These are usually found in processed foods and bakery items. They can lower their risk by cutting out those items and increasing the amount of omega-three fatty acids as that showed they were far less likely to have even early AMD.

Nutrients are known to help with AMD and research by the US National Eye Institute’s Age-Related Eye Disease Study found that taking high-doses of antioxidants and zinc significantly reduced the risk of advanced AMD and its associated vision loss. The study involved the daily intake of 500 milligrams of vitamin C, 400 International Units of vitamin E, 15 milligrams of beta-carotene, 80 milligrams of zinc as zinc oxide, and two milligrams of copper as cupric oxide.

Lets hear it for nuts!

This is another natural food that can get a bad press. They are shunned because people – particularly those on a diet – believe that they are bad for you as they are high in natural fats and oils, but this is far from being the case. Raw, not processed or salted, nuts can help fight depression, heart disease and bad cholesterol. That last one may be a bit of a shock, but although it is true that nuts in general contain as much as 80 per cent fat, but there are good fats and bad ones. The type of fat found in nuts is unsaturated fat – specifically monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat and both of these unsaturated fats are known for their ability to reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also called “bad” cholesterol, when consumed in moderation.

A few months ago in the USA, a survey examined and reported on the diets of more than 31,000 Seventh Day Adventists – chosen for the similarity of their lifestyle choices – and it was found tha t those who ate nuts more than four times per week experienced 51% fewer heart attacks compared to those who ate nuts less than once per week.

If you want to stick to the most healthy nuts around, these are the top 5 to go for:

1 Pistachios can produce a 10 point drop in your triglycerides and a 16 point decline in your LDL (bad) cholesterol, according to the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

2 Walnuts Contains omega 3s which may help ward off depression and heart attack, according to Harvard research. Maybe you should stuff those sardines with lemon and walnuts for extra benefit!

3 Brazil nuts contain selenium, a mineral linked to prostate cancer protection, according to scientists at the University of Arizona.

4 Pecans have the most antioxidants of any nut. Could help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

5 Hazelnuts a handful daily boosts HDL (good) cholesterol levels by 12 percent, according to a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.