A new study has reviewed the scientific literature since 2009 about nut consumption and its role in reducing blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The conclusions confirm that they improve the lipid profile and do not affect weight or blood pressure.
The consumption of nuts has been limited for many years due to its high energy density. However, in the last decades, important nutritional intervention studies have suggested that, despite their high fat content, they do not negatively affect body weight.
Moreover, they can even exert beneficial effects on different cardiovascular risk factors, such as insulin resistance, inflammation, blood pressure or even the lipid profile.
Now, researchers from the Rovira i Virgili University, belonging to the Center for Biomedical Research in the Network for Pathophysiology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN), and Harvard University have evaluated the effects of nut consumption on the lipid profile (total cholesterol, bad cholesterol known as LDL, good cholesterol known as HDL and triglycerides).
The work, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, not only confirms the beneficial role of their intake, but also indicates how the consumption of these nuts does not adversely affect body weight or blood pressure.
Nutritional composition of nuts differs greatly from one type to another. Walnuts are especially rich in α-linolenic and linoleic fatty acid. This unique nutritional composition could be responsible for the decrease in total cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations observed in different nutritional studies.
However, although there are several studies that have evaluated the effects of nut consumption, there are controversies in this regard.
More than a thousand participants
After analyzing the results of 26 studies of nutritional intervention with 1059 participants, the researchers concluded that, compared to control diets, those supplemented with walnuts decreased total cholesterol by 6.99mg/dL, LDL cholesterol by 5.51mg/dL, and triglycerides at 4.69mg/dL.
In addition, nut consumption does not seem to have effects on body weight or blood pressure compared to control diets.
According to the researchers, despite being a food with a high energy density, the consumption of nuts does not promote weight gain and, therefore, can be incorporated in the context of a healthy diet for cardiovascular prevention.
Although the mechanism of action by which nuts can improve the lipid profile is not known exactly, it seems that their high content of plant sterols, α-linolenic and linoleic fatty acids and polyphenols may be responsible. These nutrients have high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can also interfere with the absorption of cholesterol.