Researchers from the University of Scranton tested nine types of roasted and raw nuts, and two types of peanut butter. Their aim: to measure the ability of the nuts' polyphenols (powerful antioxidants) to stop the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, the process that triggers artery-clogging plaque. The winner of both the roasted and raw competitions: the walnut.
Among raw nuts, the silver medal went to Brazil nuts. (Don't eat more than three a day, because you can overdose on their high content of selenium.) The raw bronze was awarded to pistachios. Among roasted nuts, Brazil nuts again won the silver, with hazelnuts taking the bronze. Pecans also ranked high, taking fourth place among raw nuts and fifth among roasted.
More good news: roasted nuts (which many people prefer) contained just as many of the heart-protecting polyphenols as raw nuts.
The researchers noted that other studies show that nuts lower cholesterol, improve the health of the endothelium (the lining of the artery, which controls blood pressure), and reduce inflammation — all without causing weight gain.
The bottom line is that nuts are a nutritious, delicious and heart-protecting snack. Feel free to eat a couple of ounces a day (a handful or two).
"A Good Reason to Be Nuts About Walnuts." Vinson J.A., Cai, Y. Food & Function. 2012. In press.
"Nuts, especially walnuts, have both antioxidant quantity and efficacy and exhibit significant potential health benefits." Food Funct. 2011 Dec 21. [Epub ahead of print]
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.