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December 7, 2021 • Heart Health

Pecans & Heart Health

Want a delicious way to lower your cholesterol? Enjoy pecans regularly. That was the uplifting conclusion of a new clinical trial that set out to determine how consuming a generous portion of pecans daily impacted blood lipid levels. 

For this study, scientists assigned 52 adults at risk for heart disease to one of three study groups. Group one consumed 470 calories of pecans (about two generous handfuls) as part of their regular diet; group two substituted 470 calories of pecans for the same amount of calories of their regular diet, and group three simply consumed their regular diet with no pecans (the control group). Each study participant consumed a high-fat test meal followed by measurements of their blood lipids at the beginning and at the end of the eight-week study. 

The results? Both groups that consumed the daily dose of pecans experienced a substantial drop in their bad (LDL) cholesterol levels—averaging a 6% to 9% reduction relative to the beginning of the study. Note—even a 1% drop in LDL cholesterol affords meaningful cardiovascular risk reduction, so these results are quite significant.

For perspective, the lead investigator noted that these levels of LDL reduction exceed that provided by most lifestyle interventions, including regular exercise. Pecans, like all nuts, house several natural cholesterol-lowering agents to include fiber, healthy fats, and antioxidant polyphenols.

Be sure to include at least one ounce of some variety of nuts in your diet each day (unless you are allergic). Your heart and your brain will be grateful!


The Journal of Nutrition, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/jn/nxab248