Nuts were given a bad rap in the 80s and 90s. Visions of North Americans sitting on the couch, eyes glued to the TV, eating handful after handful of sugar-coated peanuts prompted the medical establishment to react negatively. Nuts are full of fats that raise your cholesterol and are high in salt that raises your blood pressure, they declared. Now medical opinion about the healthiness of nuts has come full circle. Eating nuts in moderation, with little or no salt added and no sugary coating, can actually give you a number of health benefits.
For example, many nuts are full of antioxidants. They are a healthy food that can be high in polyphenols. Researchers in Pennsylvania recently conducted a trial that looked at total polyphenols in nine types of raw and roasted nuts. They also looked at polyphenol content in 54 commercial samples of nut products including peanut butter.
Which nut had the highest polyphenol content? That honor went to walnuts. The researchers also found some other interesting results. Roasting had little effect on either free or total polyphenols in nuts. Walnut polyphenols had the best efficacy among the nuts and also the highest antioxidant activity. Because walnuts are high in polyphenol antioxidants, they help to inhibit oxidative processes, which are harmful to your body. Walnut polyphenols have the ability to bind to lipoproteins — those substances that help transport fat in your blood plasma. HDL, or high-density lipoproteins, are an example of a lipoprotein that plays a beneficial role in preventing atherosclerosis.
The research team concluded their study by stating that walnuts have been shown to improve lipid profiles, increase endothelial function and reduce inflammation, all without causing weight gain. These qualities make walnuts a nutritious healthy snack, they say.
For another health tip about how nuts could help ward off diabetes, read The Snack That Could Control Diabetes.