Eating This Unique Type Of Nut Can Naturally Lower High Cholesterol

Exercise isn't the only way to combat high cholesterol; diet can make all the difference, too. Nuts, in particular, appear to be a secret weapon for fighting off elevated levels of "bad" LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Ideally, we want to keep our LDL cholesterol around 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), explains the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with healthy total cholesterol levels hovering around 150 mg/dL. Anything higher than 200 mg/dL is considered high cholesterol.

Although largely dependent on the amount of nuts we eat, incorporating them into one's diet has been linked with decreases in total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides, according to an updated 2023 literary review published in the scientific journal Nutrients. In addition to how many nuts we're eating, what type of nuts we choose to snack on also appears to affect cholesterol levels. For years, research has suggested that macadamia nuts — often found in baked goods and other sweet treats — are one type of nut that may produce significant drops in bad cholesterol, as well as potentially increase "good" HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels (via The Journal of Nutrition).

Macadamia nuts may lower cholesterol levels

In an early 2003 study published in The Journal of Nutrition, 17 men with high cholesterol consumed 40 to 90 grams of macadamia nuts daily for four weeks. The study findings showed that eating macadamia nuts resulted in an average 3% reduction in the men's total cholesterol levels and a 5.3% reduction in LDL cholesterol levels. Not only that, but the researchers saw an almost 8% increase in the men's HDL cholesterol levels, although no relationship was observed between macadamia nut consumption and patient triglyceride concentration. The study team concluded that macadamia nuts may potentially offset the effects of a high-fat diet.

Similar results were found in an alternate 2008 study also published in The Journal of Nutrition, in which researchers compared the effects of a diet high in macadamia nuts against a typical American diet in 25 men and women with mildly high cholesterol. Those in the nut group saw greater decreases in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels than participants who maintained an average American diet. Again, no effects were seen on patient triglyceride concentrations. The researchers ultimately determined that macadamia nuts may be among some of the different types of nuts that promote heart health and that incorporating them into one's diet may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Macadamia nuts are rich in nutrients and healthy fats

In the 2008 study, the researchers traced the heart health benefits of macadamia nuts to their high content of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, which can be found in a variety of different food sources. Yet healthy fats may not be the only compounds responsible for this relationship. "We found that the reduction in LDL or bad cholesterol we observed was greater than would be predicted by just the healthy fats in the nuts alone," said co-author of the study Dr. Amy Griel via Science Daily. "This indicates that there is something else in the nuts that helps lower cholesterol."

It doesn't take much to reap the nutritional benefits of macadamia nuts. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in just 1 ounce of raw macadamia nuts — which is only about ten to 12 kernels — you'll find over 24 milligrams (mg) of calcium, nearly 37 mg of magnesium, 53.3 mg of phosphorus, and 104 mg of potassium. If you're not a fan of macadamia nuts, however, know that peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts may also help lower cholesterol (per WebMD).