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Cashew consumption may reduce total, LDL cholesterol

05 May 2017

Adding cashews into typical American diets appears to lower total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in comparison with a control diet, according to a new study.

Researchers randomly assigned 51 adults (aged 21 to 73 years; median LDL-cholesterol concentration at screening, 159 mg/dL) to consume either typical American diets with cashews (28 to 64 g/day; 50 percent of kilocalories from carbohydrate, 18 percent of kilocalories from protein and 32 percent of kilocalories from total fat) or potato chips (control; 54 percent of kilocalories from carbohydrate, 18 percent of kilocalories from protein and 29 percent of kilocalories from total fat) for 28 days with a ≥2-week washout period.

Participants who consumed the cashew diet, compared with controls, had a significantly greater median change from baseline in total cholesterol (‒3.9 percent; 95 percent CI, ‒9.3 to 1.7 percent vs 0.8 percent; ‒1.5 to 4.5 percent), LDL cholesterol (‒4.8 percent; ‒12.6 to 3.1 percent vs 1.2 percent; ‒2.3 to 7.8 percent), non-HDL cholesterol (‒5.3 percent; ‒8.6 to 2.1 percent vs 1.7 percent; ‒0.9 to 5.6 percent) and the total-cholesterol:HDL-cholesterol ratio (‒0.0 percent; ‒4.3 to 4.8 percent vs 3.4 percent; 0.6 to 5.2 percent).

No significant differences were noted between the diets for HDL cholesterol and triglyceride.

“Results from this study provide support that the daily consumption of cashews, when substituted for a high-carbohydrate snack, may be a simple dietary strategy to help manage total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol,” researchers said.

Cashews are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are believed to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. About one-third of the saturated fat in cashews is stearic acid, which is relatively neutral on blood lipids; this suggests that cashews could have effects similar to those of other nuts, according to researchers.

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