— by Jeff Jurmain, MA
We know a lot about nuts by now, about the grand amount of nutrients and protein and oils they hold, but if you didn’t know yet, here is a brand new example of their health powers. Researchers have found more proof that eating nuts will lower blood lipids — a.k.a. cholesterol.
In the past, wide-ranging population studies have linked nuts with a reduced risk for heart disease. Thus, many other studies attempted to see if eating nuts had an effect on cholesterol. The new study sought to estimate how nuts affected blood lipid levels and whether any other factors changed their affect.
It was published in the latest issue of the “Archives of Internal Medicine.”
Researchers pooled data from 25 different studies conducted in seven countries. They totaled 583 adults who had high cholesterol and who were not actively taking cholesterol-lowering drugs. In this sample of people, could nuts without the help of drugs improve cholesterol profile?
On average, the people consumed 67 grams of nuts. This had some significant effects. Total cholesterol was reduced by 5.1%, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol was reduced by 7.4%, total cholesterol concentration was reduced by 5.6%, triglyceride levels (another bad fat molecule) were reduced by 10.2%, and the ratio of LDL to HDL (“good”) cholesterol changed for the better by 8.3%. Just by eating nuts!
Researchers found that different types of nuts had similar effects on blood lipid levels. Factors that influenced the nuts’ battle against cholesterol were the amount of LDL cholesterol in the body, body weight, and diet type. The greatest effects were seen among people who had the highest LDL cholesterol, but also the lowest body mass index numbers.
They conclude that nuts can improve cholesterol, especially among people with high LDL cholesterol or those with low body mass index.
Remember that nuts are very high in fat and, in order to get the biggest bang for your buck, eat no more than a good-sized handful each day. Top nuts for impacting health include walnuts, almonds, pistachios and, yes, even peanuts.
One last note, a very important one: choose only unsalted nuts for health purposes.