Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Love Nuts? Try Walnuts

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A definite favorite snack of choice for many people I talk to are nuts. There is something about nuts that are just tasty. I often get asked which nut is my favorite or which is the healthiest and it is hard to narrow down to just one "best." Each nut has a different nutritional profile, but I would say my top choices are almonds, pecans, walnuts, and pistachios. I love cashews, too, but nutritionally they just aren't as healthy as the others. I know peanuts are the most popular and they are also good, but not in my top picks from a nutritional perspective.

I have read 2 studies recently on walnuts which is what prompted me to want to write a blog about them today. Walnuts have unique nutritional benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, fiber and phytosterols that make them quite healthy.

Walnuts may reduce risk of cancer
The first study was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting this week. Researchers studied walnuts and tumor development in mice and found that the mice fed a walnut-based diet had fewer tumors and if they did develop any tumors they were smaller and slower growing. The researchers think that the beneficial effect of walnuts was likely to apply to humans, too.

Walnuts may reduce risk of heart disease
A recent study in the May 2009 issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared the omega-3 in walnuts to the omega-3 found in fish. The study found that the diet with walnuts led to reductions in both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol while the fish oil diet led to reductions in triglycerides and an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol.

One ounce of walnuts is about 10-14 halves or 1/4 cup shelled. Click here for complete nutritional breakdown including vitamins and minerals. Here is a snapshot of basics:
185 calories
18 grams total fat
2.6 grams omega-3s (ALA)
4 grams carbohydrate
2 grams dietary fiber
4 grams protein

If you are trying to figure out the best ways to incorporate more walnuts, check out California Walnuts website. They have great walnut recipes and snacking tips.
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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