The War of the Nuts
- Created on Thursday, 31 March 2011 00:46
As you probably realize, I don’t refrain from expressing my opinions about national events, particularly the actions of the government, whether it’s outlawing raw almonds or starting another insane and criminal war in the Middle East.
However, this article is not about that. This article is about the war between the tree nuts. Which is the best nut?
American researchers recently announced that walnuts have the best combination of antioxidants of any nut. They also raved about the quality of walnut protein, saying that it can replace meat in the diet. Of course, they also extolled the omega-3 fats in walnuts.
“Walnuts have a combination of more healthful antioxidants and higher quality antioxidants than any other nut,” were their exact words. Study findings were presented at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in Anaheim, Southern California on March 21.
The researchers based their conclusion on an analysis of antioxidants in nine different types of nuts: walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, macadamias and pecans. "A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut.”
Those are strong words. I have always felt that in the domain of nuts, there are so many giants, it’s hard to say which one is best. But walnuts are, undoubtedly, one of the best. And they have an amazing history too. Walnuts are the oldest cultivated food on planet Earth. And they are also the oldest pre-agricultural food eaten by humans. Walnuts that were quite identical to our modern walnuts grew one million years ago in a large swath of Asia that extended from Iran to India. It was the Romans who introduced walnuts to Europe, planting them in every country that they occupied, including Britain. Americans speak of “English walnuts” but England was actually one of the last stops in the march of the walnut trees. And, walnut trees are very hearty and long-lived: living up to 500 years.
However, what’s interesting is that, in contrast, the US Deptartment of Agriculture rates the pecan as the nut highest in antioxidants. In what they claim was the “largest, most comprehensive analysis of foods to date,” USDA researchers analyzed all kinds of foods and found that “pecans ranked highest among all nuts in antioxidant capacity and were among the highest of all foods in antioxidant capacity.” Pecans, of course, are an all-American nut. They are the only major tree nut that grows naturally in North America, with a natural range that encompasses the central and eastern USA and extending down into northern Mexico. Pecan trees have been known to live 1000 years! And as I have mentioned before, pecans are the highest in zinc of any plant food. Pecans absorb so much zinc that growers here in Central Texas use foliar zinc sprays to insure that the nuts fill out completely. And I don’t have to tell you how important zinc is.
So, which is better, pecans or walnuts? All I can tell you is that I eat both and on a daily basis.