If we were to make a list of foods that have a bad reputation, nuts would definitely be at the top. When people think about nuts the first thing that pops into their mind is the fact that they have high calorie and fat content.

The truth is that nuts are one of the best foods for reducing cholesterol and keeping artery walls clean. But how can a high-fat food be good for your cholesterol? Let’s delve a little bit further into this.

What do we know about cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of lipid produced by the body, specifically in the liver. It’s essential for making cell membranes (present in the heart, skeletal muscle and nervous system) and the production of hormones, vitamin D and digestive-enhancing substances.

It’s worth distinguishing between “good” cholesterol (HDL) and “bad” cholesterol (LDL). Due to their specific structure, excess LDL can bind to artery walls and lead to plaque build-up. On the other hand, HDL transports cholesterol back to the liver where it will be removed.


What do we know about nuts?

Nuts are large suppliers of both mono and polyunsaturated fat, inevitably making them a high calorie food (average of 600 kcal / 100 g). Nuts also deliver a significant dose of calcium, iron and phosphorus.

Studies show that mono and polyunsaturated fat are extremely helpful in cleaning clogged blood vessels and preventing plaque build-up. As nuts are packed with healthy fats they contribute to reduce “bad” cholesterol.

This was confirmed by research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2010. Researchers analysed data collected from 25 nut consumption trials conducted in 7 countries among 583 men and women. Daily consumption of 67 grams of nuts produced the following results:

– Total cholesterol decreased by 5.1%;

– LDL (“bad” cholesterol) decreased by 7.4%;

– There was a significant decrease in triglycerides (by 10,2%).

The researchers concluded that nut consumption can contribute to cut off cardiovascular disease risk.


If you’re one of the people who tend to ignore the nut shelf at the grocery store, it’s time to reconsider. As we have seen, nuts don’t deserve the bad reputation they generally have. Daily consumption of nuts can, in fact, help to reduce “bad” cholesterol therefore keeping blood vessels unblocked.

The best of it is that you have a wide list of options available: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pine nuts, Brazil nuts and pistachios. You can add a handful of nuts to your yogurt or salad.

Writer and expert