Why going nuts can be a good thing

May 13, 2010 by  

Could nuts be the natural – and delicious – alternative to statins? Researchers a Loma Linda University in California report that nuts can effectively lower total and LDL cholesterols, improve LDL to HDL cholesterol ration and overall lipid profile.

According to lead researcher Dr Joan Sabaté:

“Our findings confirm the results of epidemiological studies showing that nut consumption lowers coronary heart disease risk and support the inclusion of nuts in therapeutic dietary interventions for improving blood lipid levels and lipoproteins and for lowering coronary heart disease risk.”

The authors performed a meta-analysis of studies that evaluated  effect of nut consumption on blood lipid levels in different populations with different diets and BMI.

But which nuts are good anti-cholesterol agents?

The analysis looked at studies on various types of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, almonds, and pecans. Results showed that all these nuts, and many other types  are effective. The US FDA recommends  the following nuts in preventing heart disease:

  • hazelnuts
  • pecans
  • pistachios
  • walnuts
  • peanuts

How much nuts do we have to consume to lower out cholesterol?

Nut consumption in the studies analyzed ranged from 23 to 132 grams (average is 67 grams). Data analysis showed that the cholesterol-lowering effect of nuts seems to be dose-related, meaning the more nuts you eat, the more your lipid levels improve. And effects are most evident among those with high LDL cholesterol and those with lower BMI but did not vary between male and female study participants. A consumption of 67 grams of nuts per day reduced total cholesterol levels by 10.9 mg/dL and LDL cholesterol by 10.2 mg/dL, respectively. However, nuts do not seem to have a significant effect on triglycerides.

Nuts are rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and phytosterols. According to Nuthealth.org:

Flavonoids—a class of water-soluble plant pigments, some of the best-known are genistein in soy and quercetin in onions; and

Phytosterols—including plant sterols and plant stanols. Plant sterols are naturally occurring substances present in the diet as minor components of vegetable oils. Plant stanols, occurring in nature at a lower level, are hydrogenation compounds of the respective plant sterols.

To find out the nutritional facts of your favorite tree nuts (almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts), check out Nuthealth.org.

Photo credit: nuthealth.org

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.