Honey, Almonds Lower Cholesterol
<P>Honey-Roasted Health Food</P>
WebMD News Archive
Although previous research has shown that eating nuts can reduce the risk of heart disease, it wasn't known exactly how many nuts you had to eat in order to get benefits. In this study, researchers tested three diets on 27 men and women with high cholesterol over a period of three months.
For one month, the participants ate a large dose of almonds (about 2 handfuls) that accounted for a little less than a quarter of their total day's worth of calories. In the next month, they ate a smaller dose (one handful) of almonds. And in the last month, they ate a low-fat, whole-wheat muffin that had the same amount of calories, protein, and fat (saturated and polyunsaturated) as the almonds.
After comparing cholesterol levels during and after each diet, researchers found that LDL levels were lowered by an average of 4.4% with the smaller portion of almonds and by 9.4% with the larger portion. The study was funded by the Almond Board of California.
"We were quite impressed," says study author David J.A. Jenkins, MD, director of clinical nutrition and risk factor modification center at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, in a news release.
In addition, the ratio of LDL to HDL "good" cholesterol fell by almost 8% for the half dose and 12% for the full dose by the fourth week. This means that the almonds had a good effect on LDL "bad" cholesterol without lowering the amount of HDL.
In contrast, cholesterol levels did not change significantly after the muffin phase.
Nuts are a good source of protein and do not have cholesterol, but the American Heart Association stresses that they can do more harm than good if they are added rather than substituted for other foods in the diet because they are high in fat and calories.
Other nuts, including walnuts, pecans, peanuts, macadamia and pistachios, have also been shown to lower cholesterol. Jenkins says that although there is not enough research to say that all nuts are equal in their health value, almonds have been particularly well-researched.