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Nutty Health Benefit Update: Two Handfuls Better Than One

Hot & Cool Trends

By Cari Martens

If you’re snacking on a handful of nuts a day in an effort to reap their health benefits, you may want to up your daily dose by another handful.

New research backing up the health benefits of eating nuts indicates that for most people, consuming two handfuls of nuts a day lowers cholesterol better than just one.

According to an article by Jennifer Corbett Dooren on online.wsj.com, the study’s findings apply to tree nuts such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, macadamias, as well as peanuts, which are a legume but have many of the same nutritional components.

Researchers discovered a significant dose-related improvement in participants’ blood-lipid levels, reporting their findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Lead researcher Joan Sabaté says the study ‘confirms that nuts, indeed lower cholesterol.’

In 2003, research studies on the cholesterol-lowering benefits of nuts prompted the FDA to allow processors to make the claim that “eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts … as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

The new research shows that for the average person, eating a few more nuts—about 2.4 ounces, or two servings, results in a greater lowering of cholesterol and triglycerides, another type of fat in the blood.

In the study, people who consumed 1.5 ounces of nuts lowered their total cholesterol by an average of 3.2% and their LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol by 4.9%.

People who ate 2.4 ounces of nuts daily lowered their total cholesterol by 5.1% and their ‘bad’ cholesterol by 7.4%.

It was noted, however, that the drops in cholesterol were not seen with people considered obese. More studies are needed, the researchers say, to understand why.

But it appears for many of us health nuts, more is better. (A little more. Don’t go ‘nuts.’ Nuts are still fattening.)

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