Nut consumption may lower cholesterol levels

by Keith Nunes
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LOMA LINDA, CALIF. — Consuming more nuts appears to be associated with improvements in blood cholesterol levels, according to a pooled analysis of data from 25 trials and reported in the May 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Joan Sabaté, M.D., of Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif., and colleagues, pooled primary data from 25 nut consumption trials conducted in seven countries and involving 583 men and women with high cholesterol or normal cholesterol levels. All of the studies compared a control group to a group assigned to consume nuts and participants were not taking lipid-lowering medications.

Participants in the trials consumed an average of 2.4 oz of nuts per day. The consumption was associated with an average 5.1% reduction in total cholesterol concentration, a 7.4% reduction in low-density lipoprotein (L.D.L., or “bad” cholesterol) and an 8.3% change in ratio of L.D.L. cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (H.D.L., or “good” cholesterol).

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

The research partially was funded by a grant from the McLean Research Fund of the Department of Nutrition, Loma Linda University, and by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, Davis, Calif.
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