It’s no secret that snacking on nuts is one of the best things you can do for your body. Many have been shown to boost brain health and they’ve even been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease. Most recently, a new study has found that snacking on as little as two ounces of pecans per day could help people with high cholesterol lower their levels quickly.
A Pecan-Enriched Diet for Heart Disease
Cholesterol is a type of fat that is found in our blood. When the levels of these fats become elevated, they can clog our arteries, thereby putting us at an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. When a diagnosis of high cholesterol or heart disease is given, doctors often advise patients to adopt a heart-healthy diet to help reduce the risk of such events.
This is why a team of scientists from the University of Georgia sought to better understand if eating pecans specifically could help reduce cholesterol levels. For their research, 56 adults aged 30 to 75 that were considered to be at a high risk for heart disease were divided into two groups: one group that would eat a two-ounce serving of pecans each day and one group that would eat another food of similar caloric value. The groups followed this pattern for a total of eight weeks, and each participant had their blood cholesterol levels tested at baseline and after the trial.
Results indicated that those who consumed the pecans had lowered their “bad” LDL cholesterol anywhere between six and nine percent, while the group who did not eat the pecans did not see any significant differences in their cholesterol levels by the end of the experiment. These results are pretty impressive, and the researchers thought so, too. They say that even a one percent decrease can help ward off heart disease.
“This dietary intervention, when put in the context of different intervention studies, was extremely successful,” study author Jamie Cooper told Yahoo News. “We had some people who actually went from having high cholesterol at the start of the study to no longer being in that category after the intervention.”
Pecans contain several nutrients that make it a great snack option (did you know that they’re also one of the best foods for brain health?). They’re packed with calcium, magnesium, and potassium, and they have a good amount of fiber in them as well. But perhaps most important pertaining to heart health is a type of fat called monounsaturated fat, which is known to help reduce LDL cholesterol. Pecans are great to add into baking recipes like banana bread and cookies, and they’re a perfect topping on yogurt too. Of course, you can always enjoy them on their own or mix them into a trail mix with other nuts and dried fruit!
It’s encouraging to see that interventions as small as eating two ounces of pecans a day can help us ward off heart disease and live a longer, healthier life. Science continues to show us that making healthy choices is much easier than we think!