Last week, a patient asked me a question I hear all the time. Maybe you’re struggling with the same problem. “Dr. Sears,” he said, “I love to eat snack food – especially when I’m reading or watching TV. Is there anything better than chips?”

Well, just about anything would be better than potato chips. But if you’re looking for a healthy snack, walnuts can’t be beat. Walnuts are full of heart-healthy nutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants. They’re also a great source of omega-3s. Best of all, they score a perfect zero on the glycemic index, meaning you can eat as many as you like and never get fat.

You already know that omega-3 fats are important for good health. Well, walnuts have a particular kind of omega-3 called alpha-linolenic-acid (ALA). ALA naturally lowers your overall cholesterol, your LDL (bad cholesterol), and your blood pressure. ALA is also an anti-inflammatory, which can reduce joint pain and help prevent heart disease. And walnuts have more ALA than any other nut.

Walnuts are high in antioxidants, too – and they have a flavonoid called ellagic acid. This powerful nutrient (also found in several types of berries) inhibits the growth of cancer cells. If that’s not enough for you, walnuts are very high in arginine. Arginine helps make more nitric oxide (NO), which helps your blood vessels dilate and, thus, increases blood flow. This is great for your heart … and for the bedroom. (That’s the basic idea behind Viagra.)

Next time you’re in the grocery store, skip the chips and pick up some walnuts. Enjoy your snack time without the guilt – or the extra pounds.

[Ed. Note: Dr. Sears, a practicing physician and the author of The Doctor’s Heart Cure and 12 Secrets to Virility, is a leading authority on longevity, physical fitness, and heart health.]

Al Sears has written six books and more than 500 articles in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging and nutritional supplementation. He enjoys a worldwide readership of millions spread over 123 countries and has appeared on more than 50 national radio programs, ABC News, CNN and ESPN. In The Doctor’s Heart Cure, Dr. Sears exposes the real causes of the modern epidemic of heart disease with practical how-to advice for building real heart strength and resistance to disease without drugs. It is available in nine languages and remains a bestseller three years after its publication. His 12 Secrets to Virility sheds light on the huge environmental and nutritional problems with virility in our modern world and gives men a step-by step guide for maintaining health, strength and masculinity as they age. It became a bestseller during its first month of release. His latest book Your Best Health Under the Sun addresses the myths of the sun’s dangers and gives readers an action plan for restoring this important natural resource for better mood, strength, energy and nutritional health.Dr. Sears is board certified as a Clinical Nutrition Specialist and was appointed to the international panel of experts at Health Sciences Institute, (HSI) a worldwide information service for alternative nutritional therapies. A master gardener and herbalist, Dr. Sears maintains an herbal apothecary of more than 250 organic herbs used for research, education and treatments. Dr. Sears is the founder and director of The Wellness Research Foundation, conducting original research evaluating natural alternatives to pharmaceutical therapies.Dr. Sears is a member of the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine and is board certified in Anti-Aging Medicine. As a pioneer in this new field of medicine, he is an avid researcher and sought-after lecturer to thousands of doctors and health enthusiasts. He is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. As well as being a sports and fitness coach and a lifelong advocate of exercise programs, Dr. Sears is an ACE-certified fitness trainer. He maintains his integrative clinic and research center in Florida, where he has developed novel exercise and nutritional systems transforming the lives of more than 20,000 patients.