Nuts - everyone can name several varieties and everyone has probably tried at least a few types, too.

We all have our favourite varieties - be it a pistachio nestled in its shell or a round and sweet hazelnut. And we might use nuts in cooking or simply as a snack.

But how much do we know about these crunchy critters? As with a lot of the things we eat, even a healthy living fanatic might struggle to name all of the nutrients in nuts, for example.

Nuts analysed

One lovely nut is the walnut - though perhaps not the first nut you would think of when it comes to snacking, these nuts can be good for you.

Like many foods, nuts have been subjected to research. Back in March 2011, as part of an American Chemical Society meeting, research was presented which had found that, compared to other types of nuts, walnuts contained antioxidants of a higher quality - and more antioxidants.

They beat out almonds, peanuts, pistachios and almonds, according to analysis author Joe Vinson, Ph.D.

One handful of these nuts, he said, had close to double the amount of antioxidants that the same amount of other nuts that are often eaten would.

His analysis of antioxidants covered almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, cashew nuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and Brazils.

Dr Vision said that walnuts aren’t something people eat a lot of. “This study suggests that consumers should eat more walnuts as part of a healthy diet,” he added.

Perhaps rather than cracking out popcorn next time a film is on, you could nibble a few walnuts to take care of your food cravings?

Having some on hand for when you crave something to eat at work could also prove useful. They can also go really well in a salad, either halved or crushed into smaller pieces.

The goodness in nuts

According to Dr Vision, there’s an unusual line up of nutritional benefits to nuts generally.

Nuts are suitable for people who don’t want to eat gluten or dairy products. They contain fiber, minerals, protein and vitamins.

Dr Vision discovered that the potency of the antioxidants that are seen in walnuts was higher than that in the other nuts, as well as that they had the highest amount of antioxidants in them.

He said: “There’s another advantage in choosing walnuts as a source of antioxidants. The heat from roasting nuts generally reduces the quality of the antioxidants. People usually eat walnuts raw or unroasted, and get the full effectiveness of those antioxidants.”

Small portions are advisable when it comes to nuts. According to Dr Vision, only a portion of seven or so walnuts daily would be enough to gain the nuts’ potential benefits to health that have been found in studies.

Eating a few nuts each day like this is also more affordable than getting through packets very quickly, by eating lots of nuts in one go, of course!

Why not invest in a airtight jar to store walnuts in when you’re not eating them? This could be kept in the kitchen, for example.