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Nuts Can Help Lower Cholesterol Levels

May 11, 2010

For most people, consuming a handful or two of nuts on a daily basis appears to lower the levels of "bad" (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, an analysis of 25 studies have demonstrated.

According to the experts, nuts are known to be rich with plant proteins, dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and other compounds, such as phytoesterols and phytonutrients. All the abovementioned components help to modify the levels of blood lipoprotein and bring down the levels of blood cholesterol, which appears to be the best treatment when it comes to prevention of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases.

Also, nuts are rich in mono unsaturated and poly unsaturated fats, which can effectively fight high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL). Nuts like cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts are rich with antioxidants including selenium and Vitamin E, which provides our bodies with the nutritional support and energy during the fat burning process. In addition, vitamin E lowers the body stress and keeps the metabolism as high as possible.

The principal author of the new study, Dr. Joan Sabaté, of California's Loma Linda University, said that all types of nuts are equally good for the reduction of cholesterol levels, and the more you eat, the better. 'Nuts are a wholefood that have been consumed by humans throughout history,' she said, and added that increasing daily intake of nuts as part of a diet can be very effective for blood lipid levels, at least in the short term, and reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Almost 600 male and female participants from 7 different countries took part in the cholesterol review of individuals who consumed a diet rich in nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, macadamia, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts. Those who participated consumed 67g (2.4 ounces) of nuts on a daily basis. This resulted in a 5 per cent cut in overall levels of cholesterol, and a 7.4 per cent reduction in levels of LDL, which pose big risk for health. Regular nut intake also resulted in an 8.3 per cent improvement in the ratio of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is good for the heart. In addition, the participants who had high levels of triglycerides, another 'bad' fat, demonstrated a 10 per cent reduction.

The results also showed that consuming nuts had the biggest effect on those who started out with LDL cholesterol levels higher than 160 mg per deciliter of blood, those with lower body weight, and people who were eating more "Western" diets, meaning that they consumed more foods high in saturated fats and refined carbohydrates. This makes sense, said Dr. Sabaté, because Eastern people who were already eating a Mediterranean diet that is rich in whole grains, olive oil, fish, and many other healthy foods, would not benefit much from adding nuts to their diet.

The new findings are published in the Archives of Internal Medicine journal.

Tags: Health