What’s brown, wrinkly and does you most good?

No not Bruce Forsyth but that other Christmas favourite, the humble walnut.

According to findings presented at the meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California. they are packed with more potent and abundant antioxidants than any other popular nut, as well as healthy fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Previous studies suggested regular consumption of nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers and type-2 diabetes but until now it has not been clear which nut was the best in terms of health giving properties.

Analysis of the antioxidant content of nine different types of nut: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans showed that a handful of walnuts not only contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed, but that they were between two and 15 times more potent than vitamin E, renowned for its antioxidant properties.

Study leader Dr Joe Vinson, from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, US, said: ”Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts 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.”

Dr Vinson said many people were put off nuts because they were thought to be fattening, but he pointed out that nuts generally contain healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats rather than artery-clogging saturated fat and might even reduce over-eating by making people feel full.

Dr Vinson suggested eating just eight walnuts a day would be sufficient to ensure the maximum benefit was obtained.

Source: American Chemical Society

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