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LMU 79 – Nutty Delights: Cashews as Cholesterol Champions


LMU 79 – Nutty Delights: Cashews as Cholesterol Champions

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (May 2017)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (January 27, 2018)


In the realm of nutritional exploration, certain ingredients rise above the rest, revealing their potential to reshape health outcomes. As we’ve previously uncovered the heart-healthy prowess of almonds and walnuts, our journey now leads us to the intriguing world of cashews. In May 2017, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition unveiled a study that bestowed cashews with a remarkable ability – the power to lower bad cholesterol levels. This revelation adds another layer of depth to the role of nuts in shaping cardiovascular health.

A Symphony of Cholesterol Management: The Cashew Revelation

Our journey into the world of cashews commences with a recognition of their status as the third most-consumed tree nut in the United States. Rich in monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, cashews weave a tapestry of health-promotion, intricately linked to reduced cardiovascular disease risk. While a touch of saturated fat graces their composition, a third of this component is stearic acid – a friend to cholesterol levels, as it refrains from causing a surge in their realms.

Unravelling the Study: Cashews Versus Potato Chips

To witness cashews’ cholesterol-altering prowess, we must traverse the study’s landscape. Enrolled in this exploration were 51 men and women, aged 21 to 73, bearing high bad cholesterol readings – a concern that stood as a potent backdrop. These individuals carried a pronounced risk, with an average LDL-cholesterol reading of 4.1 mmol/L (159 mg/dL). Above 2.5 mmol/L (96 mg/dL) lies the realm of heightened heart attack and stroke risk, with the ideal residing under 2.0 mmol/L (77 mg/dL).

Within this framework, the study pursued its mission. The participants adhered to their typical American dietary patterns, with a twist. One group embraced the allure of potato chips, while the other embarked on a cashew-laden journey, consuming 1-2 oz of cashews daily for 28 days. A 2-week intermission saw a switch in roles, allowing a comprehensive view of cashews’ effects.

The Symphony’s Crescendo: Cholesterol Transformation

As the curtain lifted, the study’s findings unveiled a symphony of change. After 28 days of cashew consumption, a 4% decline in total cholesterol and a 5% reduction in LDL-cholesterol danced before the researchers’ eyes. HDL-cholesterol, the benevolent guardian of heart health, and triglyceride levels stood unchanged. In contrast, the group embracing potato chips witnessed a different tale. A nearly 1% uptick in total cholesterol and a 1.2% increase in LDL-cholesterol painted a contrasting picture.

The Nutty Conclusion: A Bounty of Health

In the realm of dietary choices, the study’s implications reverberate with significance. A mere handful of cashews stands poised as a worthy adversary to the allure of potato chips and their high carbohydrate counterparts. This nutty alternative showcases its potential to lower bad cholesterol and total cholesterol, transforming the landscape of heart health.

Nuts as Pillars of Health: A Harmonious Symphony

Drawing the threads together, nuts continue to form the cornerstone of cardiovascular well-being. The journey has revealed almonds’ prowess in balancing cholesterol, walnuts’ remarkable anti-cancer and heart disease properties, and now, cashews’ potential to usher in cholesterol transformation. The overarching narrative is one of enhanced heart health and mortality reduction, sculpted by the regular consumption of these nutrient-rich wonders.

Culmination and Call to Action

The study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has cast a spotlight on the potential of cashews in the realm of cardiovascular health. As science and nutrition intertwine, a simple truth emerges: the choices we make in our diets hold the power to shape our well-being. In the tapestry of health, the inclusion of cashews stands as an invitation to partake in a symphony of nutty delights – a journey towards heart health, vitality, and longevity.


  1. Cashews Research:
    Mah E et al. Cashew consumption reduces total and LDL-cholesterol: a randomized, crossover, controlled-feeding trial. Am J Clin Nutr. Vol 15 No. 5:1070-1078 (May 2017)
  2. HDL Research: Berryman CE, Fleming JA, Kriss-Etherton PM. Inclusion of almonds in a cholesterol-lowering diet improves plasma HDL subspecies and cholesterol efflux to serum in normal-weight individuals with elevated LDL cholesterol. Journal of Nutrition. August 1, 2017. Vol 147, No 8:1517-1523

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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