Could eating walnuts lower your cholesterol? A few decades ago, people were warned to avoid walnuts as well as other types of tree nuts because of their high fat content. Experts expected this to lead to uncontrolled weight gain and increased cardiovascular risk.
Extra Walnuts Lower Your Cholesterol:
A recent analysis of 26 different clinical trials considered the impact of eating extra walnuts (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, online June 21, 2018). The studies included 1059 volunteers who followed a control diet or a walnut-enriched diet. The researchers found that those eating walnuts had lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. They also had lower triglyceride levels compared with the individuals in the control groups.
Comparing walnut-enriched diets with typical American or western diets with lots of processed foods offered the biggest contrast. Cholesterol was 12 points lower, while LDL cholesterol was 8 points lower.
Did Eating Walnuts Lead to Weight Gain?
In addition, people eating the walnut-enriched diet did not gain weight compared to those on the control diets. Neither their systolic nor diastolic blood pressure rose in response to the additional walnuts in their diets.
While the scientists do not endorse eating walnuts for better health, that is the direction their data point. People with under-active thyroid glands may want to be cautious about eating extra walnuts, however. Decades ago, walnuts were identified as having a negative effect on the thyroid gland (Endocrinology, March 1970). It is not clear, however, that up-to-date methods of studying food and thyroid interactions would confirm this.