(NaturalNews) Making nuts a regular part of your diet may help lower your cholesterol, according to a study conducted by researchers from Loma Linda University and published in the hives of Internal Medicine
"Increasing consumption of nuts as part of an otherwise prudent diet can be expected to favorably affect blood lipid levels ... and have the potential to lower coronary heart disease risk," the researchers wrote.
The researchers reviewed the results of 25 prior studies that had measured the relationship between nut consumption and blood lipid levels in almost 600 participants. They found that a diet containing an average of 67 grams (2.4 ounces) of nuts per day led to a 7.4 percent drop in cholesterol levels, as well as a significant drop in triglyceride levels. Higher levels of both substances have been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
The effect was seen in a variety of nut types. The decrease in cholesterol and triglyceride levels was proportional to the increase in nut consumption.
Researchers do not yet understand why nuts, which can be high in saturated fat, may actually lower cholesterol levels. They suspect that some of the plant sterols found in nuts may actually decrease the body's absorption of cholesterol from other foods.
Various health experts warned, however, that nut consumption should be limited to three ounces per day, due to the foods' high fat and calorie content. In addition, consumers should avoid sugary or salty nuts and instead increase their intake of plain nuts.
"Apart from salted peanuts at the pub, nuts in sugary cereals or the traditional Christmas selection, nuts have been largely lacking in our diets in the UK," said Ellen Mason of the British Heart Foundation.
The study was funded by the Almond Board of California, the California Walnut Commission, the International Tree Nut Council and the National Peanut Board. Lead researcher Joan Sabate is also a member of the Pistachio Scientific Advisory Board and has received an honorarium from that institution.