Yes, nuts can reduce cholesterol. In fact, this is one of the mechanisms that helps to explain how nuts reduce the risk of heart disease. Studies have shown that around two handfuls (approx. 60g) per day can significantly reduce both total and LDL (bad) cholesterol [1, 2].

A large analysis combining the results of 25 cholesterol lowering studies found that an average serve of nuts (around 67g, or two handfuls) each day lowered total cholesterol by about 5%, LDL cholesterol by around 7% and triglycerides by about 10% [2]. More recently, a review of 61 controlled studies concluded that tree nut intake lowers total and LDL cholesterol, with stronger effects observed at intakes of greater than 60g of nuts/day [1].
The fatty acid profile, phytosterols and fibre content of nuts all help to reduce cholesterol.

References

  1. Del Gobbo, L.C., et al., Effects of tree nuts on blood lipids, apolipoproteins, and blood pressure: systematic review, meta-analysis, and dose-response of 61 controlled intervention trials. Am J Clin Nutr, 2015. 102(6): p. 1347-56.
  2. Sabate, J., K. Oda, and E. Ros, Nut consumption and blood lipid levels: a pooled analysis of 25 intervention trials. Arch Intern Med, 2010. 170(9): p. 821-7.
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