Eating nuts may produce beneficial effects on cholesterol and other heart-related fats, a new study suggests. (Photo: Dayoo.com)
LOS ANGELES, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Eating nuts may produce beneficial effects on cholesterol and other heart-related fats, a new study suggests.
Researchers at the Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California came to the conclusion after analyzing data on 583 men and women who had participated in 25 nut consumption trials.
The results showed that eating about 2.3 ounces of nuts a day -- a third of a cupful -- reduced total cholesterol levels by 5.1 percent and "bad" LDL cholesterol by 7.4 percent.
That amount of nut eating also improved the ratio of LDL cholesterol to "good" HDL cholesterol by 8.3 percent and caused a decrease of 10.2 percent in triglyceride levels among people with high levels of those blood fats, according to the study published on Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine.
The benefits from eating nuts was greatest among thin people, those with high LDL cholesterol and those consuming a fat-rich diet, said the study.
The study provides "the best evidence yet that eating nuts reduces LDL cholesterol and improves the blood lipids profile," said Dr. Joan Sabate, who chairs the nutrition department at the university.
Sabata said the type of nuts eaten doesn't seem to matter. The study found essentially the same results for walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, macadamias and pistachios.
"Nuts are a matrix of healthy nutrients, and the most obvious reason for the cholesterol-lowering effect is their unsaturated fat content," Sabate said. "Nuts also contain fiber, vegetable protein, phytoesterols and other antioxidants."
The best evidence for the beneficial effect of nuts, though, has come from studies of walnuts and almonds, he added.
But enthusiasm for nuts should be restrained, because they are highly caloric, and thus can contribute to obesity, said Sabate.
The researchers recommend a 3-ounce-a-day limit.