Effects of Nut Consumption on Blood Lipids and Lipoproteins: A Comprehensive Literature Update
In the present review, we provide a comprehensive narrative overview of the current knowledge on the effects of total and specific types of nut consumption (excluding nut oil) on blood lipids and lipoproteins. We identified a total of 19 systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that were available in PubMed from the inception date to November 2022. A consistent beneficial effect of most nuts, namely total nuts and tree nuts, including walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, and pistachios, has been reported across meta-analyses in decreasing total cholesterol (mean difference, MD, −0.09 to −0.28 mmol/L), LDL-cholesterol (MD, −0.09 to −0.26 mmol/L), and triglycerides (MD, −0.05 to −0.17 mmol/L). However, no effects on HDL-cholesterol have been uncovered. Preliminary evidence indicates that adding nuts into the regular diet reduces blood levels of apolipoprotein B and improves HDL function. There is also evidence that nuts dose-dependently improve lipids and lipoproteins. Sex, age, or nut processing are not effect modifiers, while a lower BMI and higher baseline lipid concentrations enhance blood lipid/lipoprotein responses. While research is still emerging, the evidence thus far indicates that nut-enriched diets are associated with a reduced number of total LDL particles and small, dense LDL particles. In conclusion, evidence from clinical trials has shown that the consumption of total and specific nuts improves blood lipid profiles by multiple mechanisms. Future directions in this field should include more lipoprotein particle, apolipoprotein B, and HDL function studies.
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