Pecans for Lowering Cholesterol

Q. I’ve read about a specific combination of foods that is effective for lowering cholesterol and reducing heart disease risk. Are pecans among the healthy foods recommended?

A. Yes, tree nuts, including pecans, are at the center of the heart-healthy diet you’re referring to. Called the Portfolio Diet, it was developed by Canadian researcher David Jenkins, M.D. and his colleagues eight years ago, and includes plant sterol-enriched margarine, foods rich in soluble fibers, such as oats, barley and psyllium, soy protein and nuts, including tree nuts, like pecans.

Now, a new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at 315 men and women with high cholesterol levels and found that following two versions of the Portfolio Diet for six months—the regular version, which included a little more than 1.5 ounces of nuts per day for a 2,000 calorie diet (equal to 30 pecan halves) and a more intensive version, which included a little more than 2 ounces of nuts per day (equal to 40 pecan halves) experienced 13 percent to 14 percent reductions in LDL-cholesterol (low density lipoprotein cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol) compared to those following a traditional low-saturated-fat diet. The researchers estimated the overall coronary heart disease risk was lowered by about 11 percent.

This latest research clearly shows that making antioxidant-rich pecans a part of your own heart-healthy diet portfolio can help lower your risk of heart disease.

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