"Walnuts rank above peanuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and other nuts," Joe Vinson of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania said in a statement. "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."
Vinson noted that nuts in general have an unusual combination of nutritional benefits. They contain plenty of high-quality protein that can substitute for meat; vitamins and minerals; dietary fiber; and they are dairy- and gluten-free.
Vinson said it takes only about seven walnuts a day to get the potential health benefits.
Research has found consumption of small amounts of nuts or peanut butter is linked to decreased risk of heart disease, certain kinds of cancer, gallstones, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
Antioxidants in walnuts were two to 15 times as potent as vitamin E -- renowned for its powerful antioxidant effects, which protect the body against damaging natural chemicals involved in causing disease, Vinson says.
The findings were presented at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, Calif.