Nuts and Cholesterol

Nuts and Cholesterol

Benefits against high cholesterol

Walnuts are among the foods useful for keeping cholesterol levels and cardiovascular risk under control, provided – of course – they are included in the context of a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. In fact, numerous studies have investigated and confirmed the benefits attributable to a diet rich in nuts ; although there are rare exceptions to the contrary, based on the results of these studies we can state that the consumption of 40-80 grams of walnuts per day, in a balanced diet, produces an average decrease in LDL cholesterol levels

(bad) of about 8-12 mg/dL, keeping the values ​​of good cholesterol substantially unchanged .By examining the nutritional properties of walnuts in detail, however, we realize how this food can be quite useful in reducing cardiovascular risk not only by lowering blood cholesterol , but also by acting on other fronts.



A precious food

In nutritional terms, walnuts are particularly known for their high content of unsaturated fats . Examining the acid profile of dry food (see table), we note in fact how saturated fats represent less than 5% of the total lipid heritage; instead, the polyunsaturated fat content of the omega-six series is excellent, while the percentages of omega-three are moderate: nutrients quite rare in common foods, with the exception of fish and some vegetable oils (nut, hemp, seed flax and canola ).

Nutritional values ​​dried walnuts (100 g)
Power 612 KCal
Carbohydrates 12.05 g
Protein 24.9g
Total lipids 56.98
Saturated fat, total 1.306 g
Monounsaturated fats , tot. 10.425g
Polyunsaturated fats , tot. 42.741g
of which omega-six
of which omega-three
Cholesterol 0 mg
Vitamin E 3.85mg

In various studies, the optimal synergy between polyunsaturated fats has been shown to help reduce triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels , without significantly affecting HDL levels or even increasing them slightly. This latter effect is also supported by the good content of monounsaturated fatty acids and in particular of oleic acid , the same which leads many nutritionists to recommend olive oil as a substitute for normal seed oils .

Another valuable nutrient that abounds in walnuts is the amino acid arginine , precursor of nitric oxide , a powerful vasodilator that contributes to the health of the arteries by keeping them flexible and preventing the formation of clots . Even vitamin E , contained in walnuts in excellent quantities, could contribute – in synergy with arginine and omega-3 fats – to counteract the formation of atherosclerotic plaques , thanks to its well-known antioxidant properties .

Finally, again with a view to reducing cholesterol levels, the role of plant sterols (or phytosterols ) and fibers could be very important , given that both contribute to reducing the intestinal absorption of dietary lipids. The fibers also favor the onset of the sense of satiety ; for this reason, walnuts can be eaten as a snack together with an apple or other fresh fruit, or to dress salads instead of the traditional seed oil.


Nuts yes, but in moderation!

Due to the high caloric value , if one decides to increase the consumption of walnuts to lower cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular health, it is essential to consume this food as a replacement – and not in addition – to other foods, such as hungry instead of the traditional high-calorie snacks (crisps, croissants , various sweets). In fact, let us remember that severe overweight and obesity probably represent the most faithful allies of cardiovascular diseases ; therefore, it is essential to control the caloric intake of the diet, avoiding repeated excesses over time.



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