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Eating nuts can help lower your cholesterol

Nuts have long been known to be an excellent source of plant protein, fibre, phytonutrients, and antioxidants. They are also high in calories and fat. A new study published in the May 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine reveals that consuming just 68 grams of nuts per day can help lower total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol. The nuts also improve the ration of “good” HDL cholesterol to total cholesterol.

The study pooled the results of twenty-five different clinical trials and reported reductions of 10.2 milligrams per decilitre of “bad” cholesterol, and 10.9 milligrams in total cholesterol. These reductions represent drops of 7.4 percent and 5.1 percent, respectively. It did not matter what kind of nuts were eaten; all had a similar effect on cholesterol levels.

The lead author, Dr. Joan Sabaté, a professor of nutrition at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California explains, “Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, and that is a main driver in lowering cholesterol. They are the richest source of protein in the plant kingdom, and they also contain fibre and phytosterols, which compete with cholesterol to be absorbed. All these nutrients have been demonstrated to lower cholesterol.”

Interestingly, the effect of nuts on cholesterol levels was greatest among people with the higher levels of LDL cholesterol at the beginning, and among people who were not obese. There was also a dose-response relationship, meaning the more nuts they ate, the greater the effect.

To get the best results from eating nuts without gaining weight, add nuts to your diet as replacements for other high fat or high-calorie foods that probably don’t offer nearly the health benefits of nuts. Limit intake to no more than 70 grams per day.

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