High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
There are a few different mechanisms that can pave the way to lower cholesterol levels. Fortunately, walnuts seem to have the ground covered on various fronts, a dietitian has explained. What’s more, the small snack could reduce your levels of the fatty substance in as little as weeks.
From pine nuts in pesto to walnuts in a carrot cake, nuts offer more than a versatile snack suitable for both savoury and sweet dishes.
The small foods of various colours, shapes and sizes, are all packed with good fats, fibre and protein.
When it comes to cholesterol, the first important part of their nutritional profile comes down to fats.
Heart UK explains that nuts are packed with unsaturated fats and are low in saturated fats – “a mix that can help to keep your cholesterol in check”.
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Sian Porter, Consultant Dietitian to California Walnuts, said: “Replacing sources of saturated fat with foods that contain polyunsaturated fats (PUFA), such as walnuts can lead to significant decreases in total and ‘bad’ cholesterol.
“A diet high in PUFAs may also help protect against the adverse effects of consuming meals high in saturated fats (SFA) by improving fat metabolism and lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels.”
Another potent ingredient hiding in the small foods is fibre which can help block some cholesterol from being absorbed into your bloodstream.
Apart from these two important parts, walnuts are the only nut that contains “significant amounts” of the plant-based essential omega-3s known as alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA for short, Porter shared.
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The dietitian explained that around 30 grams of walnuts pack around 2.7 grams of ALAs.
She said: “Research reviewed by European Food Safety and Authority (EFSA) leading to an approved health claim has shown ALA contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels.”
Research, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, also credited cholesterol reductions triggered by walnuts to their ALA content.
What’s more, just “one handful”, which is the equivalent of 30 grams, a day should be enough to do the trick, according to the dietitian.
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Porter said: “Cholesterol reduction is multifactorial and due to a number of lifestyle factors, it can vary from individual to individual.
“Studies have been for variable lengths of time but from six weeks to follow-up at up to five years still show a benefit.”
Because high cholesterol is a risk factor for health problems, ranging from heart disease to stroke, walnuts could also help stave off these culprits.
“The Predimed study showed that a Mediterranean diet including tree nuts, primarily walnuts, was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular events and a 46 percent lower risk of a stroke, when compared to a low-fat diet,” the expert added.
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