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Nuts Improve CVD Risk. Let's get nuts! Eating almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other nuts improves lipid levels
  May 10, 2010,
Loma Linda, CA - The consumption of nuts, nearly any type of nut, improves blood lipid levels, lowering total and LDL cholesterol levels, and improves important lipid ratios, according to the results of a new meta-analysis [1]. The cholesterol-lowering effects of nuts are dose related and more pronounced in individuals with higher baseline LDL cholesterol levels and in those with a lower body mass index (BMI), according to investigators.
"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," write lead investigator Dr Joan Sabate (Loma Linda University, CA) and colleagues in the May 11, 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.
The authors add that a recent summary of these previous epidemiological studies suggested that the risk of coronary heart disease was nearly 40% lower among individuals who ate at least four servings of nuts per week, compared with those who rarely or never ate nuts. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration issued a qualified claim stating that the consumption of specific nuts—almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts—might reduce the risk of heart disease [2].
Reducing total and LDL cholesterol levels
In this meta-analysis, the researchers examined the effect of nut consumption on blood lipid levels, and whether these effects varied, in different populations, by type of nuts, by diet, and by BMI. Overall, 25 studies of 583 men and women with normal lipid levels and blood pressure who were not taking lipid-lowering medications were included in the analysis. Across the different studies, daily nut consumption ranged from 23 g to 132 g (approximately 0.8 oz to 4.8 oz), and included various types of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, almonds, and pecans.
Consuming 67 g of nuts per day, the mean daily consumption across the 25 studies, reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels 10.9 mg/dL and 10.2 mg/dL, respectively. It also significantly improved the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol, and the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol. There was no significant effect on HDL cholesterol levels, and no effect on triglycerides, although a reduction in triglyceride levels was observed among individuals with higher baseline levels.
Changes in blood lipid and lipoproteins levels

The effect of consuming nuts was similar in men and women, across different age groups, and was observed regardless of the specific nut consumed and regardless of the study funding source.
The cholesterol-lowering effects, however, were larger among individuals with higher baseline LDL cholesterol levels. For example, among those with LDL cholesterol levels <130 mg/dL at baseline, the reduction in LDL cholesterol was 3.5 mg/dL, whereas it was 18.4 mg/dL among those with a baseline level >160 mg/dL. Conversely, the cholesterol-lowering effects were largest among individuals with a BMI <25 kg/m2, and were attenuated, although still statistically significant, in those with a BMI >30 kg/m2.
In the paper, Sabate and colleagues note that estimated reductions in the pooled analysis are similar to those of a recent meta-analysis of pooled walnut consumption studies. "The similarity of the results obtained by different methodologic approaches confirms the validity of our findings," they write. The results, according to the group, confirm that increasing the consumption of nuts as part of an "otherwise prudent diet can be expected to favorably affect blood lipid levels (at least in the short term) and have the potential to lower coronary heart disease risk."
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