Researchers at Loma Linda University, in California reviewed the effects of nut consumption on blood lipid levels and the ability of different factors to modify the response.

First, the details.

  • Data from 25 nut consumption studies in 7 countries among 583 men and women were combined for a meta-analysis.
  • These were people with normal and high cholesterol blood levels who were not taking lipid-lowering drugs.

And, the results.

  • Based on an average daily consumption of 67 grams of nuts (2.4 ounces), the following significant estimated reductions in blood concentrations were achieved.
  • Cholesterol effects
    • Total cholesterol: 11 mg/dL (0.3 mmol/L; 5% change)
    • LDL (bad) cholesterol: 10 mg/dL (0.3 mmol/L; 7% change)
    • Ratio of LDL-C to HDL (good) cholesterol: 8% change)
    • Ratio of total cholesterol concentration to HDL-C (6% change)
  • Triglycerides
    • Reduced 21 mg/dL (0.2 mmol/L; 10%) in patients with blood levels of at least 150 mg/dL
    • But not in those with lower levels
  • The effects of nut consumption were dose related.
  • Different types of nuts had similar effects on blood lipid levels.
  • The lipid-lowering effects of nut consumption were greatest in patients with the following characteristics:
    • High LDL-C
    • Low body mass index
    • Those consuming Western diets

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Nut consumption improves blood lipid levels in a dose-related manner, particularly among subjects with higher LDL-C or with lower BMI.”

Furthermore, the results confirm that increasing consumption of nuts as part of an “otherwise prudent diet can be expected to favorably affect blood lipid levels (at least in the short term) and have the potential to lower coronary heart disease risk.”

So, this suggests that eating nuts is first-line therapy for controlling cholesterol levels.

Caution: Nuts contain approximately 160 to 200 calories and 13 to 20 grams of fat per 1-ounce serving. It’s important to eat them in moderation and without increasing the overall calories consumed daily.

5/31/10 15:04 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.