Tree nuts and the lipid profile: a review of clinical studies

Br J Nutr. 2006 Nov:96 Suppl 2:S68-78. doi: 10.1017/bjn20061866.


Tree nuts have a fatty acid profile that favourably affects blood lipids and lipoproteins. They are low in saturated fat and high in unsaturated fatty acids and are rich sources of other nutrients. An extensive database consistently shows total and LDL cholesterol-lowering effects of diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in unsaturated fat provided by a variety of tree nuts. Collectively, a summary of studies conducted to date shows that tree nuts reduce LDL cholesterol by 3-19 % compared with Western and lower-fat diets. Nuts also contain many nutrients and bioactive compounds that appear to contribute to the favourable effects on lipids and lipoproteins--these include plant sterols, dietary fibre and antioxidants. Because of their unique nutrient profile, nuts can be part of a diet that features multiple heart-healthy foods resulting in a cholesterol lowering response that surpasses that of cholesterol-lowering diets typically used to reduce CVD risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carya / chemistry
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Juglans / chemistry
  • Lipids / blood*
  • Lipoproteins / chemistry
  • Macadamia / chemistry
  • Nuts / chemistry*
  • Pistacia / chemistry
  • Prunus / chemistry


  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins
  • Cholesterol