Eat Almonds for Cholesterol Control

Eat Almonds for Cholesterol Control
Dec 16, 2010 Rosemary Drisdelle

Almonds lower LDL cholesterol and lower the risk of coronary heart disease. Almonds are nutritious and can replace other foods in a heart healthy diet.

The benefits of eating almonds to lower cholesterol levels are so well documented that the Mayo Clinic includes these nuts in its list of the top five foods to lower cholesterol. A 2002 study indicated that daily consumption of 37 grams of almonds (approximately 30 nuts) can lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – the ‘bad’ cholesterol – by about 5% (Jenkins, 2002).

How do almonds lower cholesterol?
Research has yet to reveal exactly how almonds lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, but several components of the nuts are likely to be involved (Jenkins, 2006):

plant protein
monounsaturated fat
plant sterols
Almonds are also an excellent source of antioxidants including Vitamin E which, while not thought to affect cholesterol levels, appear to have great benefits for heart health and significantly lower the risk of coronary heart disease (Jenkins, 2008).

Nutritional value of almonds
Thirty-seven grams of almonds (approximately 30 nuts) provides:

8 grams of protein
4 grams of fiber
nearly half of the daily requirement of vitamin E
18.5 grams of fat (1.3 grams of saturated fat, 0 trans fat)
214 calories
Almonds are also a good source of riboflavin, magnesium, and manganese. Because of the high fat – and therefore high calorie – content, these nuts should be eaten in moderation, and they should replace other sources of fat and protein in a healthy diet.

Eating almonds to lower cholesterol
The US Food and Drug Administration recommends that people trying to lower cholesterol levels with food should eat 42.5 grams of almonds (about 35 nuts) daily (Mayo Clinic). Almonds should not be salted or candy coated, and because some of the antioxidants are present in the skin, the nuts should not be blanched (Jenkins, 2008). The benefits of eating almonds will be enhanced by also including foods high in soluble fiber, and other sources of plant sterols.

Sources
Jenkins, David A., Cyril W. C. Kendall, Augustine Marchie et al. “Almonds Reduce Biomarkers of Lipid Peroxidation in Older Hyperlipidemic Subjects.” The Journal of Nutrition: 138, 2008

Jenkins, David A., Cyril W. C. Kendall, Dorothea A. Faulkner et al. “Assessment of the Longer-Term Effects of a Dietary Portfolio of Cholesterol-lowering Foods in Hypercholesterolemia.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: 83(3) 2006

Jenkins, David J. A, Cyril W. C. Kendall, Augustine Marchie et al. “Dose Response of Almonds on Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors: Blood Lipids, Oxidized Low-Density Lipoproteins, Lipoprotein(a), Homocysteine, and Pulmonary Nitric Oxide.” Circulation Sept 10, 2002.

Mayo Clinic. “Cholesterol: Top 5 Foods to Lower Your Numbers.” Accessed Dec 2010

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