Go nutty. That’s the message for people with high cholesterol, according to a study by Prof. David Jenkins and research scientist Cyril Kendall of nutritional sciences. Published in the journal Circulation, the study found that almonds significantly lower levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Previous research has suggested that nut consumption reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, but since nuts are high in calories, they are generally not recommended for people on calorie-reduced diets.
“We were quite impressed,” Jenkins says of the reduction in the ratio of “bad” to “good” cholesterol generated by the almonds. “That ratio is very important in assessing cardiovascular risk.” Patients can eat almonds as part of a healthy, balanced diet as long as they are natural or dry-roasted, without added oils or salts, adds Jenkins, director of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. While nuts and seeds tend to be high in fat and calories, most of the fat is polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. The combination of fats in nuts – monounsaturates with some polyunsaturates – is ideal.