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Eat nuts to lower LDL & cholesterol, increase HDL levels

Updated: 12 May 2010
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Researchers say that eating nuts daily is good for heart health.
Eating a handful of nuts a day could have huge health benefits for your heart, researchers say.

Just a couple of ounces can cut total cholesterol levels by 5 per cent, and can have an even greater effect on levels of 'bad' cholesterol, they insist.

A high level of cholesterol is one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

Researcher Dr Joan Sabate, of California's Loma Linda University, said all types of nuts are good for cutting levels - and the more the better.

All types of nuts are good for cutting cholesterol level, which is
one of the strongest risk factors for heart disease and stroke.
'Nuts are a wholefood that have been consumed by humans throughout history,' she said.

'Increasing consumption as part of an otherwise prudent diet can favourably affect blood lipid levels, at least in the short term, and lower coronary heart disease risk.'

Nearly 600 men and women from seven countries were involved in the cholesterol review of people on a nut-rich diet.

Published in the Archives of Internal Medicine journal, it looked at studies using walnuts, pecans, macadamia, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts.

Those taking part ate 67g (2.4 ounces) of nuts a day. This led to a 5 per cent reduction in overall cholesterol levels, and a 7.4 per cent cut in levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which are bad for health.

Regular nut consumption also led to an 8.3 per cent improvement in the ratio of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is good for hearts.

In addition, those with high levels of another 'bad' fat, triglyceride, had a 10 per cent drop.

Dr Sabate said: 'The effects of nut consumption were dose related and different nuts had similar effects on blood lipid levels.'

She added that volunteers with high LDL levels and eating a Western diet were found to reap the biggest benefits.

However, Ellen Mason, a nurse at the British Heart Foundation, warned salted nuts could offset the benefits for heart health so should be avoided.

Nuts are rich in plant proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, fibre, minerals and other compounds such as antioxidants.

The most likely explanation for the protective effect is thought to be an abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, a fat also found in oily fish.

The study is the latest to promote the health benefits of nuts, a staple of a Mediterranean diet.

Previous research has shown that they also reduce inflammation and improve the functioning of arteries.


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