Half-cup of Walnuts Daily Lowers Bad Cholesterol Even in Statin Drug Users
Source: American Heart Association Journal – Circulation (August 2021)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (September 2, 2021)
We know that having a high LDL-cholesterol blood level is a cardinal risk factor for heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. Eating less saturated, trans-fats, deep-fried, and battered foods, helps to lower cholesterol levels, as does consuming more soluble fiber from beans, peas, oats, soy products, artichokes, ground flaxseed, psyllium husk fiber, apples, and pears. But a breakthrough study in the journal Circulation in August 2021 has confirmed that eating ½ cup of walnuts each day also lowers total cholesterol and the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) to a significant degree, even in older patients who are already taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs (like Crestor, Lipitor). This 2-year study involved 708 male and female participants (63-79 years old), who were healthy, independent-living adults residing in Barcelona, Spain, and Loma Linda, California. Half the subjects ingested ½ cup of walnuts each day for two years and the other half were instructed to avoid walnut consumption during the same two-year study period.
In the subjects who consumed ½ cup of walnuts daily, there was a 7.9% reduction in LDL-cholesterol men and a 2.6% reduction in LDL-cholesterol in women, on average, by the end of the study. But 32% of the subjects were already taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, which suggests that the cholesterol-lowering effect of walnuts would probably be even greater in individuals not taking statin drugs. These findings are very impressive, as sometimes statin drugs alone do not bring LDL cholesterol down into the ideal range for heart attack and stroke prevention. The addition of ½ cup of walnuts per day can help to further lower LDL-cholesterol in statin drug users and is one more way that the rest of us can help keep our cholesterol level down so we hopefully won’t need to rely on statin drugs to lower our cholesterol.
Remember that 5-10% of the population have genetically high cholesterol, whereby statin drug use is necessary to get LDL-cholesterol into the safe range. But even in these individuals more prudent diet and lifestyle strategies, including ½ cup of walnuts per day, is still very helpful in getting LDL-cholesterol into the ideal range, as is taking a supplement each day containing the natural agents Gum Guggul and Artichoke Leaf extract. I should mention that studies have shown that other nuts can also reduce LDL-cholesterol levels to a modest degree, such as almonds and cashews, but walnuts appear to have the greatest impact, and they also provide some extra omega-3 fat (alpha-linolenic acid).
I have included the study references in the text below.
1. Sujatha Rajaram, Montserrat Cofán, Aleix Sala-Vila, Ella Haddad, Mercè Serra-Mir, Edward Bitok, Irene Roth, Tania M. Freitas-Simoes, Amandeep Kaur, Cinta Valls-Pedret, Mónica Doménech, Keiji Oda, Dolores Corella, Joan Sabaté, Emilio Ros. Effects of Walnut Consumption for 2 Years on Lipoprotein Subclasses Among Healthy Elders: Findings From the WAHA Randomized Controlled Trial. Circulation, 2021; https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.121.054051
2. Other Nuts That Lower Cholesterol: https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/features/nuts-help-lower-bad-cholesterol
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.