Walnuts can help improve blood cholesterol levels, according to an analysis of 26 clinical trials in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2018. Most of the studies had participants consume 1 to 2 ounces of walnuts a day for 4 to 8 weeks.
Walnut eaters had, on average, a 7-point drop in total cholesterol and nearly 6-point drop in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol compared to people who didn’t eat walnuts. Triglyceride levels also declined modestly.
Like all nuts, walnuts are rich in unsaturated fats, fiber, sterols, polyphenols, and other compounds that can improve blood lipid levels, as well as key vitamins and minerals. Unlike other nuts, walnuts are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fat related to those in fish that may have anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic properties.
In addition, “because walnuts are usually consumed raw, they have the highest antioxidant efficacy compared with nuts that are typically consumed roasted,” the researchers noted.
The study was funded in part by the California Walnut Commission and the National Institutes of Health.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Foods That Lower Cholesterol.