Loma Linda UniversityChewing nuts seems to be a favorite pastime of many. Well, good for them, as a recent study conducted by experts from Loma Linda University seems to suggest that, consuming more nuts improves blood cholesterol levels. Nuts may reduce coronary heart disease risk and lower blood lipid levels. This may be possible, because nuts are rich in plant proteins, fats (especially unsaturated fatty acids), dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and other compounds, such as antioxidants and phytoesterols.

Joan Sabaté and colleagues combined the data from 25 nut consumption trials. These trails were conducted in seven countries including 583 women and men with high cholesterol or normal cholesterol levels. The study authors compared a control group to a group assigned to consume nuts. None of the participants were on any lipid-lowering medications.

The study authors explained, “Dietary interventions to lower blood cholesterol concentrations and to modify blood lipoprotein levels are the cornerstone of prevention and treatment plans for coronary heart disease. Recently, consumption of nuts has been the focus of intense study because of their potential to reduce coronary heart disease risk and to lower blood lipid [fat and cholesterol] levels based on their unique nutritional attributes.”

Everyday, the participants would consume an average of 67 grams of nuts. The outcome was that, an average of 5.1 percent reduction in total cholesterol concentration was noted. Also, a 7.4 percent reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and an 8.3 percent change in ratio of LDL cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) were probably reported. An additional decline by 10.2 percent, of triglyceride levels seemed to appear in individuals with high triglyceride levels (at least 150 milligrams per deciliter).But, the same decline was not observed among individuals with lower levels.

The authors remarked, “The effects of nut consumption were dose related, and different types of nuts had similar effects on blood lipid levels. The effects of nut consumption were significantly modified by LDL-C, body mass index and diet type: the lipid-lowering effects of nut consumption were greatest among subjects with high baseline LDL-C and with low body mass index and among those consuming Western diets.”

Therefore, the report suggests, including nuts in therapeutic dietary interventions, for improving blood cholesterol levels. The authors apparently claim that, nuts are food that has been consumed by humans since centuries. 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.

The study was published in the May 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.