Nearly one-third of adults over 40 take statins to lower their cholesterol. And with good reason: Statins can lower "bad" cholesterol (LDL) so that it no longer poses such a risk for heart disease and heart attacks. But doctors are always on the lookout for ways to lower cholesterol without medication. And a new study from the University of California at San Diego may hold the key to accomplishing that.
Experts know that one way to lower cholesterol is by losing weight, even a few pounds. And in this study the researchers wanted to study the effects of different diets on both weight loss and cholesterol levels: a high-fat, low-carb diet; a low-fat, high-carb diet; and a high-fat, low-carb diet that included walnuts. It goes without saying that in all these diets the fats were unsaturated kinds (like olive and canola oil) and the carbs were complex (like multi-grain or whole wheat).
Researchers found that people on all three diets lost about 8 percent of their body weight. But those women that added a 1.5 ounce serving of walnuts (or 21 halves) per day lowered their LDL levels significantly, especially if they were diabetic. And even better, the walnuts raised their levels of HDL, or good, heart-protecting cholesterol.
The takeaway: Eat more walnuts every day! Sprinkle a few on top of yogurt, cereal, and salads. Or snack on a handful of nuts, including walnuts.
Walnuts are nutritional powerhouses, loaded with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Eating 14 walnut halves a day for a few months can help blast belly fat, according to a study published in the Nutrition Journal. It can also lower the levels of blood fats (triglycerides) and raise good cholesterol, HDL, which is good for your heart. Another perk: Walnuts, with their anti-inflammatory properties, can protect against certain types of cancers.