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Eating more pecans may improve your cholesterol

Experts say the nut can give consumers important health benefits

Photo (c) billnoll - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Georgia explored the ways that pecans can improve consumers’ heart health. According to their findings, the tree nut has been associated with better cholesterol levels.  

“This dietary intervention, when put in the context of different intervention studies, was extremely successful,” said researcher Jamie Cooper. “We had some people who actually went from having high cholesterol at the start of the study to no longer being in that category after the invention.” 

Diet change can impact cholesterol levels

For the study, the researchers put 52 adults who were at an increased risk of heart disease into one of three groups for eight weeks: one group didn’t eat pecans, one group swapped 470 calories of one food group for the same caloric value of pecans, and the third group added 470 calories worth of pecans into their existing daily diets. At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers tested the participants’ blood to determine what effect the pecans had on their cholesterol levels. 

The team learned that incorporating pecans into a diet in any way was beneficial for the participants’ cholesterol levels, but those who added the nut into their daily routine instead of just substituting it for other foods had the best health outcomes. The study showed that eating pecans was associated with nearly a 10% reduction in LDL levels and a 5% decrease in overall cholesterol levels. 

“Whether people added them or substituted them, we still saw improvements and pretty similar responses in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in particular,” Cooper said. 

Metabolism and body-processing benefits

The researchers credited pecans’ nutrient make-up for their cholesterol-lowering properties. They say pecans, like many fruits and vegetables, have bioactive compounds that allow them to positively influence our metabolisms and promote healthy processes in the body. 

Many consumers struggle to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and the researchers hope that these findings can work to change that. Incorporating pecans into your diet may be an easy way for consumers to improve their long-term heart health. 

“The addition of the pecan not only produced a greater and more consistent reduction in total cholesterol and LDL compared to many other lifestyle interventions, but may also be a more sustainable approach for long-term health,” said Cooper. “Some research shows that even a 1% reduction in LDL is associated with a small reduction of coronary artery disease risk, so these reductions are definitely clinically meaningful.” 

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