Boost Your Health With the World’s Most Nutritious Nut

Nuts are well known for their nutritional benefits, including their high levels of heart-healthy fats, protein, antioxidants (substances that help protect cells from oxidative damage), plant sterols (natural substances found in plants that can help lower cholesterol), fiber, and minerals. But which nut is king when it comes to health? A recent presentation at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society suggests an answer: walnuts.


In spite of all the research on and analysis of nuts, scientists had never compared the nutritional quality of different nuts. Joe Vinson, PhD, from the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, sought to fill in this information gap by comparing the amount and quality of antioxidants in nine different nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.

He found that not only did walnuts have the highest level of antioxidants, they also had the most powerful antioxidants, ranking from 2 to 15 times as strong as vitamin E (a well-known antioxidant powerhouse). In addition to these superior nutritional qualities, Vinson noted another benefit of walnuts: Unlike many other types of nuts, walnuts are generally eaten raw, preventing the reduction in antioxidant quality that typically accompanies roasting.

According to Vinson, “Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts. A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut. 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.”

So why don’t people eat more walnuts, or indeed any type of nuts? Vinson suggests that many people may not be aware of the health benefits of this type of food, and others may be worried about gaining weight from eating too many nuts. He points out that studies suggest nuts can help people feel full and may therefore actually prevent overeating. Moreover, he points out that only seven walnuts a day are necessary to provide health benefits.

For more information, read the press release on the Web site of the American Chemical Society. And to incorporate walnuts into your diet, try one of the following great recipes:

Caribbean chicken salad
Hot and spicy nuts
Parsely, pear, and walnut salad
Simple fiber-up snack mix

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  • Jon

    “So why don’t people eat more walnuts…?” I can give you at least one reason.

    My wife loves to eat various nuts, but discovered long ago that walnuts contain a chemical property that produces chancre sores on her toungue; even in small amounts, or when baked into a food. No other nut does this to her.

    I imagine that this biological response producing chancre sores is somewhat like (or, perhaps, IS) allergic in nature. Thus, some human organisms can’t tolerate whatever it is in walnuts that produces the allergic reaction.

    What would be interesting to know is how many people experience allergic responses to walnuts in comparison to, say, peanuts. I hear more about peanut allergies because of the greater risks involved. But I don’t know as much about walnut allergies.

  • BimBam

    The email article said …”to find out what nut scientists…”

    I thought it was an article about scientist who were now touting something stupid as reading the rest of the article wasn’t making any sense.

    It came to me a little while later you were talking about recommended nuts to eat.

  • jim snell

    God dam cankor sores from walnuts every time.
    What idiot came up with this nonsense?

    Take em and shove em.

  • Muriel Black

    My daughter & I both have the same problem with walnuts we have a real hard time eating the because they make our tongue and mouth sore. Thanks

  • Denise Davis

    I have always had the same problem with walnuts and nice to see that I am not alone. Pecans do not have that affect on me. So I substitue receipes with pecans that call for walnuts.

  • BimBam

    Soak your walnuts in in saline or water and salt solution overnight to remove phytic acid and them dry them out for 8 hours or so in a low heat oven around 200 degrees.

  • Carolyn Wright

    We at one time had a huge California Walnut tree. If the nut meat is just shelled and basically sun dried, the meat will give you sores in your mouth. But, we found that by using the oven and baking the shelled nut meats until the outer skin became almost metalic color, then cooled and that skin removed the nut meat could be eaten without any horrid result in your mouth. This also gave the nut meat a wonderful roasted flavor. Now we purchase our walnut meat and usually I have to oven roast them, or the mouth gets sores. Try it, it worked for me and I have type 2 diabetes…so I eat walnuts.

  • Mary Martha Smoak

    Gracious, get some help. With out a doubt no one is expected to consume a food that causes pain or a reaction such as cankor sores. If other nuts do not cause a similar or worse problem consider the next best nut of your choice.

  • still too fat

    I love walnuts but seldom get to eat them because my wife finds them bitter, so I can’t add them to any dishes or baked goods we will share. I find them buttery and rather bland tasting.

    Oddly enough, she loves cilantro, finding the taste lemony and fresh. To me it tastes like laundry detergent.

    Any research on why different people taste the same food differently?

  • Judy Shrader

    Thank you Carolyn Wright! I will try the roasting, because I could not eat even one walnut without the mouth irritation! Just like everyne else no other type of nut gave me any reaction-even cashews which I have been told are related to poison ivy in some way! I also am type 2 diabetic, wonder if that is any part of the problem?

  • elaine powell

    what about using walnut oil. maybe a small amount each day? check with health food stores

  • susan conway

    love walnuts but I don’t buy them because they cost to much and when you’re on a fixed income every penny counts

  • SteveDenver

    Walnuts… I grew up in California where they were cheaper than oats, but always got canker sores or inflamed taste buds.

    Since I stopped eating red meat, wheat and sugar, I’ve found that I no longer have inflammation. I’m wondering if it’s a food interaction problem.

    I used to loved walnuts in Banana Nut Bread, but avoided it because of the irritation. I still eat bananas, but not wheat flour or sugar.

    Has anyone else experienced such a change?

  • jim snell

    Nope, still get bad canker sores. Other nuts do NOT do this.

    I pass.