Munch nuts every day to improve heart health

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Nuts are commonly eaten snacks around the globe and are available in various types, size and shapes. I personally think that peanut is the most popular or consumed nut among all the nuts.  It was interesting to read an article on a recent  study that revealed that eating any type of nuts can help in reducing your blood cholesterolThe study was published in May10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.  The researchers analyzed the results of 25 clinical trials that involved 583 participants. 

What was the main outcome of study?
The study revealed that eating just 2.4 ounces of nuts of any kind can reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) by 10.2 milligrams per deciliter, which amounts to a drop of 7.4%.  Also, it was reported that total cholesterol (TC) would reduce by 10.9 milligrams or 5.1%.  This would improve your ratio of total cholesterol to good cholesterol (HDL).  It was interesting to read comment from author of leading news paper that 2.4 ounces roughly correlates to two and a half airplane snacks.

Who funded the study?
This is always a key question in clinical studies and we have seen issues last year controversy with Medtronic, the funding it provided for clinical trials and their outcome. The study was in part funded by a nut-industry foundation and couple of authors received research money from other organizations representing the nut and peanut industry.  Well this may suggest why the results of the study were concluded in favor of the eating nuts, but it was noted that some trials included in the study were not funded by corporate and had similar conclusions. 

How do nuts help lower the bad cholesterol level?
Dr. Joan Sabaté, lead author and a professor of nutrition at the School of Public Health at Loma Linda University in California, stated that “Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats, and that is a main driver in lowering cholesterol,” He also said that “Nuts are the richest source of protein in the plant kingdom, and they also contain...



fiber and phytosterols, which compete with cholesterol to be absorbed. All these nutrients have been demonstrated to lower cholesterol.”

I think as we learn more we will know more about the role of nuts and potentially phytosterols in improving your cholesterol score.

Is there any prerequisite health condition that shows more improvement?
The study revealed that people with higher LDL cholesterol and among those who were not obese, will able to reap the benefits of eating nuts than others.  Also, in such people, it was reported that the more nuts they eat, greater the effect.

I think the most significant part of the study was that the benefits to your cholesterol level can be achieved by eating any type of nut.  This is significant as there are so many varieties of nuts and all of the nuts do not cost the same.  Some are much more expensive than others and can add significant cost to your monthly budget.  One thing was not clear from the study that can nuts be eaten in any form like peanut butter in case of peanut. It may be easier to eat loads of peanut butter than the nut itself. 

Also remember although nuts can help lower the cholesterol level but eating too much can increase weight as well. So be careful so that you do not consume too many nuts and gain weight.  You can replace foods high in saturated fat with nuts, for example, instead of using cheese, meat or croutons in your salad, add a handful of walnuts and almonds. 

So the nuts and bolts of eating the nuts study is; eating nuts every day keeps the doctor away. 

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