Nuts & Bolts of Cholesterol Lowering

Nuts & Bolts of Cholesterol Lowering
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A pooled analysis of studies on nut consumption, cholesterol levels, and risk of death from heart disease show extraordinary benefits, suggesting we should eat nuts every day.

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A pooled analysis was recently published of 25 interventional trials investigating nut consumption and the levels of fatty substances (like cholesterol) in the blood. Here are the results of four of the best studies of nut consumption, and risk of death from heart disease.

Compared to eating no nuts at all, this is the associated drop in risk of death eating nuts once or twice a month; about once a week; a couple times a week; and then, almost every day. We’re talking about cutting the risk of our number one killer in half, with one simple, delicious dietary change—adding nuts to our daily diet.

Part of this is from nuts’ uncanny ability to lower bad cholesterol. And the worse off you are, the better it works. It’s not like nuts just cut your cholesterol a set percentage from wherever you start from. If your LDL starts out under 130 (and we’d really like to see it about half that), then, eating nuts lowers LDL about three percent. But, start out in the mid-100s, and nuts work twice as hard. And, if you’re off the charts, ready to keel over any moment, nuts drop your bad cholesterol an average of like ten percent.

You’ll note, though, many of these 25 studies were funded by industry groups, such as the ITNC-NREF, the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, or the International Nut and Dried Fruit Foundation, presumably throwing in the dried fruit part so they wouldn’t have to be known as the “International Nut Foundation.”

Either way, such trade groups have not shown themselves to be above conniving studies designed to exaggerate benefit. Case in point, from the Almond Board of California, showing almond consumption reduces DNA damage, compared to the control group—who were instead made to eat pork.

This is a classic drug company trick—comparing your product to something you just know is going to bomb. And lo and behold: “In summary, consuming a diet containing 84 g/d almonds for four weeks decreased oxidative stress in young male smokers.” Uh, yeah—compared to pork.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

A pooled analysis was recently published of 25 interventional trials investigating nut consumption and the levels of fatty substances (like cholesterol) in the blood. Here are the results of four of the best studies of nut consumption, and risk of death from heart disease.

Compared to eating no nuts at all, this is the associated drop in risk of death eating nuts once or twice a month; about once a week; a couple times a week; and then, almost every day. We’re talking about cutting the risk of our number one killer in half, with one simple, delicious dietary change—adding nuts to our daily diet.

Part of this is from nuts’ uncanny ability to lower bad cholesterol. And the worse off you are, the better it works. It’s not like nuts just cut your cholesterol a set percentage from wherever you start from. If your LDL starts out under 130 (and we’d really like to see it about half that), then, eating nuts lowers LDL about three percent. But, start out in the mid-100s, and nuts work twice as hard. And, if you’re off the charts, ready to keel over any moment, nuts drop your bad cholesterol an average of like ten percent.

You’ll note, though, many of these 25 studies were funded by industry groups, such as the ITNC-NREF, the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research and Education Foundation, or the International Nut and Dried Fruit Foundation, presumably throwing in the dried fruit part so they wouldn’t have to be known as the “International Nut Foundation.”

Either way, such trade groups have not shown themselves to be above conniving studies designed to exaggerate benefit. Case in point, from the Almond Board of California, showing almond consumption reduces DNA damage, compared to the control group—who were instead made to eat pork.

This is a classic drug company trick—comparing your product to something you just know is going to bomb. And lo and behold: “In summary, consuming a diet containing 84 g/d almonds for four weeks decreased oxidative stress in young male smokers.” Uh, yeah—compared to pork.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Kerry Skinner.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

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?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

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