Eating Nuts May Help Lower Cholesterol Levels

Eating nuts regularly may help in lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol, according to a study by US Loma Linda University.

For the study, the researchers performed a pooled analysis of raw data from 25 clinical trials that involved 583 men and women with various blood lipid problems. None of the participants was taking lipid-lowering medications.

The results showed that eating on average 67g of nuts – a small bag – associated with a decrease in LDL cholesterol levels of about 10.2 mg/dL, or about 7.4%.

“Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, and it is a main key in lowering cholesterol,” said the lead author, Dr. Joan Sabaté, a professor of nutrition at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California. “They are the richest source of protein in the plant kingdom, and they’re also contain fiber and phytosterols, which have been proven to lower cholesterol.”

In addition to lower LDL cholesterol levels, nuts are also reduces the amount of triglycerides, a type of blood fat that has been associated with heart disease.

However, the effect was least pronounced among obese people. It is not clear why nuts have this effect, although one suggestion is that it is to contain plant sterols, which is considered to interfere with the cholesterol absorption.

Dr. Sabate said increasing nut consumption as part of a healthy diet should be recommended.

The study, which reported in the May 10 Archives of Internal Medicine, was conducted by independent researchers, although it was partly funded by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation.