What do we know about cholesterol?
Although cholesterol is a fatty acid with a negative role for the health of the cardiovascular system, it is important in the processes of formation of cell membranes and hormones . Thus, it is vital for the normal functions of our organism.
Cholesterol becomes a nuisance only when excessive amounts of cholesterol begin to accumulate in the blood .
Blood cholesterol levels can be checked by blood tests that show:
- LDL: lipoprotein, which transports cholesterol to cells. It is often called "bad" cholesterol, since high concentrations of it are associated with atherosclerosis, the accumulation of cholesterol in the walls of blood vessels, forming plaques that increase over time and narrow the arteries, making it difficult or completely blocking the blood supply to the heart, brain, etc.c. High LDL levels are the main cause of cardiovascular diseases, infarction and stroke .
- HDL: lipoprotein, which binds cholesterol from the blood, including atherosclerotic plaques, thereby reducing its accumulation in blood vessels, sending them to the liver for processing. It is called "good" cholesterol because of its positive properties due to its anti-atherosclerosis properties .
Cholesterol is predominantly a fatty acid produced in the liver, but we can also take them in small quantities with food, especially foods of animal origin (meat, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, cream) .
However, some sources of fibre are known to be able to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in food, as well as to reduce the naturally present cholesterol in the body, thus high-fiber food intake helps to reduce cholesterol .
What are the benefits of nuts?
When it comes to nuts, there is often confusion about oily nuts (such as walnuts and almonds) and dried fruits (such as dried figs and raisins), which have a completely different nutritional value and composition.
In this article, when talking about nuts, we will talk about:
- Cashew nuts;
- Cedar nuts;
- Brazil nuts.
Nuts are a food of high nutritional value, they are rich in plant proteins (10-25%) fatty acids (mainly unsaturated fatty acids), which enrich them with calories (about 600kcal/110g).
They are also rich in minerals (copper, magnesium, potassium), vitamins (folic acid, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6) and other biologically active substances such as antioxidants and phytosterols .
Health benefits of including nuts in the diet:
- Better metabolism of lipids and glicides- prevention of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus ;
- Reduction of oxidative stress ;
- Reduction of inflammatory processes ;
- Appetite control ;
How do nuts help reduce cholesterol?
An analysis by The University of California Loma Linda, summarising the results of 25 previously published studies that include 583 women and men who did not take medications to reduce cholesterol, confirms that the inclusion of nuts in the diet has a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels.
The researchers concluded that daily intake of 67 g of nuts contributed to the following results in respondents: total cholesterol decreased by 5.1%, LDL decreased by 7.4% and an impressive reduction in triglycerides was observed (10.2%) respondents with previously high values .
Several studies have shown that nuts help reduce total and LDL cholesterol levels as well as triglyceride concentrations [2, 3, 4, 5] even when nuts are ingested in smaller quantities of 28-30 g per day [5,6].
These positive effects could be attributed to the high content of polyunsaturated fats, fibres, phytosterols in nuts that have a cholesterol-lowering effect .
In order to reduce cholesterol levels and the probability of cardiovascular diseases, you need to introduce a number of changes in your lifestyle, thus making healthier choices, including dietary choices.
One of the steps towards success is the inclusion of nuts in the diet on a daily basis, since they have a scientifically proven effect in reducing blood cholesterol levels, as well as other positive health effects.
- Insel P, Turner RE, Rozz D. Nutrition. 2 . 2004: 181-92.
- Sabaté, J. et al. Nut Consumption and Blood Lipid Levels. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010.
- Souza, R. et al. Nuts and Human Health Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 9, 1311.
- Ros, E. Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients, 2010 2:652–82.
- Globbo, L. et al. Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2015 102:1347–56.
- Ros, E. Nuts and CSD. British Journal of Nutrition, 2015.