Parent's Resource Center

Aw, Nuts!
    

 

 
 

 

"We all know it, we stay away from nuts as if they had the plague!  Why, because of their fat content.  No more, read this article of the health benefits of these delightful morsels."
 
Recent studies have suggested that eating nuts - almonds in particular - might help lower blood cholesterol levels.  Armed with this evidence, the Almond Board of California challenged ordinary people to eat a rounded half-cup of raw almonds every day for a month and see how their cholesterol levels were affected.  The brave volunteers' had their blood drawn before they started the challenge.  After the month-long almond feast, and one month after they stopped eating almonds, here's what was found:
1  

Man, 42, 6'2" 167, lightly active:
Before:       Total:   253 HDL: 48
After:           Total:   223 HDL: 45
One Month Later:  219 HDL: 42

2  

Woman, 52, 5'1/2", 113, moderately active
Before:       Total:   307 HDL: 67
After:           Total:   268 HDL: 68
One Month Later:  274 HDL: 60

3  

Although our experiment was far from scientific, the results were pretty impressive, especially considerating the volunteers didn't change their diets or exercise habits during the experiment.  These findings were reviewed with Dr. Gene Spiller, the director of the Health Research and Studies Center in Los Altos, CA and the principal researcher on two almond studies sponsored by the Almond Board.

He says that many nuts seem to be effective in lowering cholesterol levels.  This is primarily due to their high unsaturated fat content, which doesn't raise cholesterol like artery-clogging saturated fat.  Almonds, and some other nuts, also contain other vitamins and minerals that have been linked to healthy hearts, such as vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and copper.  A study of more than 30,000 women found that women who ate nuts two or more times each week reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 40 percent.

Spiller recommends eating a handful of nuts three or four times a week, but that doesn't mean you can gorge yourself on steaks and sit on the couch.  To keep cholesterol low, eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and exercise for 30 minutes at least three times a week.  "you can never rely on just one thing to reduce your cholesterol." he says.