Nuts improves lipid levels

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NutsEating any type of nuts (almonds, walnuts and pecans) may lower total- and LDL-cholesterol levels, according to the results of a study published in the May 11, 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a claim stating that the consumption of specific nuts—almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, and peanuts—might reduce the risk of heart disease.

In this meta-analysis, the researchers examined the effect of nut consumption on blood lipid levels.  25 studies including 583 men and women with normal lipid levels and blood pressure who were not taking lipid-lowering medications were included in the analysis.

The results indicated that consuming 67 g of nuts per day reduced total- and LDL-cholesterol levels by 10.9 mg/dL and 10.2 mg/dL, respectively.  Nuts, however, have no effects on HDL-cholesterol levels and triglycerides.

Changes in blood lipid and lipoproteins levels

Measure Mean change (95% CI), mg/dL Mean change, % p
Total cholesterol -10.9 (-14.1 to -7.8) -5.1 <0.001
LDL cholesterol -10.2 (-13.1 to -7.4) -7.4 <0.001
HDL cholesterol 0.09 (-1.00 to 1.19) 0.2 0.88
LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio -0.2 (-0.3 to -0.1) -8.3 <0.001
Total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol ratio -0.2 (-0.3 to -0.1) -5.6 <0.001
Triglycerides -3.1 (-7.2 to 1.2) -2.8 0.15
Triglycerides (baseline <150 mg/dL) 0.7 (-3.2 to 4.7) 0.7 0.74
Triglycerides (baseline >150 mg/dL) -20.6 (-30.7 to -9.9) -10.2


The cholesterol-lowering effects were more apparent among individuals with higher baseline LDL-cholesterol levels and those with a BMI >30 kg/m2.

The results showed that the consumption of nuts can favorably affect blood lipid levels in the short term and might lower coronary heart disease risk in the long term.

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Source: May 11, 2010 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

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