Doctor's Note

One sees the manipulation of study design and skewing of results in studies on beverages too, from pomegranate juice (see Is Pomegranate Juice That Wonderful?) to milk and soda (see Food Industry “Funding Effect”). For more on nuts, see videos like What Women Should Eat to Live LongerFighting Inflammation in a Nut ShellPlant Protein Preferable; and Diverticulosis & Nuts.In How Fiber Lowers Cholesterol, I cover part of the mechanism of how nuts do what they do. I also have dozens of other videos on nuts

For additional context, check out my associated blog posts: Stool Size and Breast Cancer RiskCholesterol Lowering in a Nut ShellOptimal Phytosterol Dose and Source; and Is Coconut Oil Bad For You?

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    One sees the manipulation of study design and skewing of results in studies on beverages too, from pomegranate juice to milk and soda. For more on nuts see videos like What Women Should Eat to Live Longer, Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell, Plant Protein Preferable, and Diverticulosis & Nuts, though there are 50 others. And hundreds of other videos on more than a thousand topics. On Monday’s video-of-the-day I’ll cover part of the mechanism of how nuts do what they do. If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

    • sf_jeff

      So, can we conclude that eating a variety of nuts is more effective than just pure almonds at lowering cholesterol (ignoring Brazil nuts, which you have already addressed)?

  • Mikeroyo

    This is a great website and I enjoy getting the 2 minute daily updates.   I think today’s video is a repeat of yesterday (a new title but attached the wrong video?).

    Keep up the good work as you are doing a great service.  I’ve forwarded a link to the website to many of my friends…… those that would pay attention, anyway.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

      Mikeroyo–you’re the best! Thank you so much for pointing that out. It will be fixed ASAP–stay tuned!

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       All better now. Thanks for your patience–and enjoy!

  • So what’s the best way to decipher which study is legit? I know most of us want to hear our bias confirmed, but is simply knowing who does the funding enough?

  • Highland_brigand

    From this data I get the impression the benefits of nuts might be minimal for those eating a low fat, plant based diet as per Ornish and Esselstyn. Both of these approaches (very similar) eschew fatty foods including nuts and the proof is in the pudding ie reversal of heart disease. If you’re starting from a 80-85 LDL (sub 150 TChol) adding nuts may make no difference as you’re already “heart attack proof” to quote Dr. Esselstyn.

    Comments Dr. Greger?

    • Peppy

      Great question Highland and for those of us on the Ornish diet/Esselstyn diet with stents/bypasses, carotid stenosis. Should we add some nuts or not? Dr. Fuhrman concludes yes and get the flour product consumption down. I tried that and it sure worked on my cholesterol numbers but did it work on the arteries. Cardiologist at Cleveland Clinic told me it is more important to worry about calming the endothelial lining than to worry about reversal of plaque. I would sure want to take advantage of a small amount of nuts daily if it lower my risk of another heart attack and early death. But how many and will it bring back angina to consume that much plant fat? 

      I’d like expert comments too Dr. Geger. Thank you for this wonderful site. 

      • Lebepotter

         As far as I know Dr Esselstyn has continued to oppose nut consumption for persons with heart disease. His diet would seem to reduce the risk of another heart attack to about zero– good enough, perhaps, whether walnuts might add a level of refinement, of redundant protection, or not. Those of us reading both Esselstyn and Greger, however, may tend to remain interested in nuts, perhaps especially walnuts.

        Esselsyn has expressed great respect for tests of endothelial function; he repeatedly cites brachial artery recovery testing results showing damage from, for example, olive oil. He would like to see more endothelial funciton testing of common foods. So would I!

        I’ve just run across a study showing improved endothelial function following walnut consumption: study was supported in part by a California walnut institution, but seems otherwise impressive. I take it as another data point in choosing whether to include nuts, or at least walnuts, in a diet intended to prevent or reverse heart disease.

        • Awcoursen

           Also, I believe Esselstyn objects to all nuts (except walnuts) because of the poor omega3 to omega6 ratios. Nuts are very omega6 heavy, and this leads to inflammation…. and that impacts endolethial function.

          • Lebepotter

             I don’t remember seeing Esselstyn’s concern over the omega 3/ omega 6 ratios of nuts before (do you remember where he mentions it?), but it has been a concern of mine. I understand that walnuts are the exceptional nut with a relatively favorable omega 3 / omega 6 ratio– which might, or might not, help to account for walnuts experimentally improving endothelial function. Of course, what we’d like to see is more experimental evidence for the effects of almonds (which I’m looking at for their high magnesium), hazelnuts, and so on. Experimental evidence could trump the hypothetical pro-inflammatory possibility. I think we’d all be happy if that should turn out to be the case!

          • Cheryl

            I believe another reason Dr Esselstyn says no nuts is because people don’t seem to be able to just eat a therapeutic amount. He stated this in a 6 hour seminar he provides for his patients that I attended.

          • Lebepotter

             Thanks, Cheryl, for passing along Dr. Esselstyn’s thinking. My partner and I each usually just include a few walnut halves at lunch– we eat whatever portion we’re guessing at the time might be therapeutic (that could be two halves or a half handful, depending on where we fall on the Greger/Esselstyn spectrum at the time). Whatever the portion, there’s no inclination to eat more; by the end of lunch we’re full of beans and whatnot. On the other hand, we’re underweight, with practically no subcutaneous fat (owing to AIDS or HIV meds) and each subject to occasional stretches of near collapse. If, at such a time, we feel like we’re starving… almond butter on toast seems to help. Is it the fat (the concentrated calories), the magnesium, or… ?

          • Cheryl

            Or maybe just some more calories that you needed. :)
            Your lunch sounds like mine. I’ve been adding a few walnuts to my lunch salad (and even tossing on some pumpkin seeds too) yum!

  • Annie 1

    Dr. Greger,
    I thoroughly enjoy reading your daily posts.  Apart from your exceptional knowledge, you style of delivery is brilliant.  Thank you.

  • Shanasyy

    Dr Greger you’re sense of humor in your videos always keeps me laughing. Thanks for all your great work and dedication!

  • Livingfoodscafe

    Dr. Greger,

    What are your thoughts on the 80/10/10 Diet? More specifically, do you feel that the 10% fat/10% protein is a sufficient amount from nuts and seeds?

    • AlexanderBerenyi

      Less digestible protein fractions, insoluble fiber, and a myriad of antinutritional factors such as trypsin inhibitors, hemagglutinins, tannins, phytates, etc.
      prevent foods like nuts and seeds from being realistically good sources of protein, even if they do contain the essential amino acids (ex: cashews / pumpkin seeds). These foods can have all sorts of great properties outside of protein, but please don’t count on them for that.

      • Livingfoodscafe

         So, rely more so on leafy greens and sprouts then for protein?
         Thanks, Alexander!

        • AlexanderBerenyi

          That would be a better bet, yes.
          Careful with raw sprouts, though, as sprouting can reduce inhibitors, but probably not eliminate them entirely.

    • Toxins

       Eating a varietized whole foods plant based diet provides all the protein one needs, especially when you eat starches. Protein needs and energy needs are equivalent so eat when your hungry till your full. The inhibitors Alexander speaks of below are deactivated with cooking.

  • Jaahearn

    Hi Dr. Greger, 

    I love watch your videos every day along with my morning oatmeal and fruit. Very grateful for the chance to learn, and sometimes be entertained. Today’s almond vs pork study was hilarious–except that I can’t believe anyone really wastes the time and resources. A shame.

    My question is this: I greatly prefer toasted nuts–walnuts, pecans, almonds. Are there any studies which look at the difference in raw vs toasted? Am I doing myself any harm–or just not doing myself as much good as I could? I’m guessing in these big studies like the Nurse’s Health Study, that people were eating a mixture of raw and toasted. My guess is most people are not eating raw nuts, but are still benefitting. Do you know?

  • greyjaybee

    Which nuts are best ? I consume walnuts, almonds and hazels. Are these good ?

  • Randy

    I definitely understand your point  on studies funded from specific industries which benefit from the research’s “good” results. Key to note and always focus upon is the research study itself: quality, control, peer reviewed, etc. In short, is it a reputable good piece of work or a slanted bias study, done for a pop in advertising promotion.

    There are both types prevalent, always glad you focus on the study’s underlying scientific foundation parameters and not just the sensationalistic results.

  • Rathatcher

    This subject is timely for me, so I’m glad this subject is back up. After  a few months of plant-based eating, my cholesterol dropped 100 points. But now after a year on plants it seems frozen at about 200 total. Is it oil, nuts, coffee, sugar, stress? Or what some have told me”familial.” There is so much conflicting information. Thanks Dr. G for your daily digging for answers.

    • Cheryl

      Are you still loosing weight or are you at your ideal weight? I eat plant perfect but my cholesterol is still high. I’ve lost 40 the 70 pounds I needed to loose. Dr Esselstyn told me that I might not see my numbers drop to where they should be until I get the last 30 pounds off. (my BMI is 25.5 at this point)

      • Rathatcher

        I think I’ve figured out the culprit for me…my favorite vegan restaurant uses a lot of oil (and I eat there a lot). I’m close to my ideal weight, but may have 8 pounds or so to go. Thanks for responding. My coffee maker is one of those Keurig contraptions, and I’m not sure it filters out the cholesterol raisers. I’m going to cut back a bit on the simple sugars as well. It was a little disheartening after the initial 100 point drop of going plant based. But I think watching the oils is important. 

        • Toxins

           Indeed, oil is one thing you should eliminate from your diet.

    • veganrunner

      I think we also forget about the importance of exercise when it comes to lowering LDL. 

  • Cpgraetti

    Are these studies done on vegetarians and vegans?  In other words,  is adding walnuts to my low-fat, whole plant-based, vegan diet an improvement or is it just an improvement if one is an omnivore?

  • Lily

    But what about the studies showing that people with the highest cholesterol live the longest, and that vegetarians have higher mortality? (Was just reading this article, which says: “Female vegetarians have higher coronary heart disease mortality than
    female non-vegetarians. Male vegetarians have lower coronary heart
    disease mortality than male non-vegetarians, but they have higher
    all-cause mortality.” (here’s the link to the article:

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks!

    • Toxins

      The populations with the highest level of dietary cholesterol in their diet compare with Americans are the Inuits and they live 10 years less then Americans. The Okinawans who are primarily plant based had the most centenarians per capita; that is, the most people over 100 years old in their population. I am not sure what other figures are being looked at. Vegetarians can fall under the umbrella of dairy, eggs and free oils. These foods promote heart disease progression. One has to be a healthy vegan to truly reverse heart disease.

      I would recommend viewing some of these mortality videos

  • Michelle Kennedy

    So, bottom line: do nuts help lower cholesterol or not?

  • Lizzie

    I have so many questions about cholesterol. Here is a little background on me. I am 56 and pretty healthy (I think, I feel like I am) and not on any medications. My weight is pretty high (although I have lost 17 pounds since starting this six months ago, but that’s just a drop in the bucket), I love eating. I’ve always leaned towards not eating meat, and went ten years strictly vegetarian when I was younger (16-26). Those damn McDonalds fish fillets got me coming and going. They were literally the last think I ate before going vegetarian and the first thing I ate when I started eating a little meat again. My reasons have always been moral issues.

    Anyway, about 6 months ago I saw the ‘Uprooting” video and it really affected me. I showed it to Neal, who said to me in the past, “Don’t every expect me to stop eating meat”, and he said we need to be vegan!! I was ecstatic!! So we have been totally vegan now for six months, and I have to assume from here on in.

    I wish we would have had our cholesterol checked before hand, but we didn’t. Last Saturday we went and had our blood checked, and this is what mine came up with:

    total cholesterol: 222
    HDL: 40
    Glucose: 108
    TC/HDL ratio: 5.5
    blood pressure: 120/74

    Sam’s did that all for free : ))

    Anyway, I thought it would be better after six months, so will it continue to get better in time, do I need to be doing something else?

    I am starting to use more and more green leafies and stuff, I found a great way to eat LOTS of it at a time, stick all kinds of veggies in the Ninja and grind it all down and add some flavouring or dressing, you can eat tons of veggies this way!!

    I’m always trying to find ways to keep it new and exciting : ))

    Thank you so much, Dr. Greger!!


    • Lizzie

      (Oh, and I do not smoke, drink or take drugs, aside from the occasional ibuprofen) Everyone in my family has died from cancer.


    Dr Greger,

    This was a fascinating topic but there is a bigger question:


    I’ve been fat free vegan since numerous mini strokes and diagnosis of right anterior cerebral artery blockage.

    It appears this condition has improved after a full year of removing animal products and added fat from my diet.

    I would like to add nuts but don’t want to jeopardize the improvement which has been made.

    Thank You For Your Incredible Work.


  • Lon

    I’m not sure if this is the right place, but I would like to ask about sprouted nuts. I recently read that sprouted nuts are supposedly healthier than roasted or even raw nuts. They claimed that the raw nuts had to be blanched, a process in which some of the nutrition is lost, but that sprouted nuts are treated with lower heat after a short germination. Sounds too good to be true. Is it?

  • Kate McConaughy

    My cholesterol dropped 46 points to normal in one year eating a plant diet including nuts and seeds.

  • vegan minstrel

    Even for strict whole food vegans, eating too many nuts and seeds can definitely keep an LDL and total cholesterol level higher than generally accepted ideal levels. Limiting those foods quite a bit could be wise for all unless it is demonstrated that they provide protection even when cholesterol levels aren’t perfect. Fat-soluble antioxidant vitamins that come with nuts and seeds might provide that protection? An un-oxidized higher LDL might not be so bad?

  • Marc Stegen

    OK! You end these videos this way, way to often; with a negative about what you were just talking so positive about! So, should we, who have a heart condition, be eatting nuts daily? And you only mentioned almonds; are they the best? Or what other nuts are good for lowering chloresterol? I’d like to get off this Simvastatin!

  • Michele

    Nuts actually RAISED my cholesterol from very healthy numbers to the highest they’ve been in years:

  • Linda

    I have been a vegetarian for over 35 years. I am now vegan. My cholesterol is around 240 to 280. I have tried everything to lower it naturally and nothing has worked. What do you suggest?

  • Linda

    Do nuts which are purchased with the shells removed offer the same benefits as nuts still in their shells?

  • Tammy Travis

    I have been plant based sinced jan of 2015. about 3 months after doing a juice fast my cholesterol numbers dropped. Now fast forward about 8 mo later blood work nw shows at least 10 point increase in cholesterol numbers and sudden spike in blood pressure to dangerous levels. even tho i have eliminated almost all oils and sugars. I have, however been snacking on salted cashews. This may explain the bp problem. But if nuts decrease cholesterol then how have my numbers gone up? i also had my TSH checked which also jumped from 2015 of 2.031 to now 4.081. Free T4 went from 1.01 to 0.95. trigycerides after juice fast were 234. Now are 274.Chol was 218, now 239. etc. My weight is currently 194 after lsoing 30 lbs at juice fast. i am 55 yr old with fibromyalgia and metabolic syndrome and hypertension, even tho most of last yr I no longer needed meds for it, till 2 weeks ago, and had to go up to a much stronger med that what i took before juice fast. My hair took a spell where it was falling out. feels frizzy, and having extrmeme difficulty losing weight unless I do extreme calorie restriction no matter how healthy i eat.