Background: Consumption of nuts has been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease events and death. Walnuts in particular have a unique profile: they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which may improve blood lipids and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.
Objectives: We aimed to conduct a literature review and a meta-analysisto combine the results from several trials and to estimate theeffect of walnuts on blood lipids.
Design: Literature databases were searched for published trialsthat compared a specifically walnut-enhanced diet with a controldiet. We conducted a random-effects meta-analysis of weightedmean differences (WMDs) of lipid outcomes.
Results: Thirteen studies representing 365 participants were included in the analysis. Diets lasted 4–24 wk with walnuts providing 10–24% of total calories. When compared with control diets, diets supplemented with walnuts resulted in a significantly greater decrease in total cholesterol and in LDL-cholesterol concentrations (total cholesterol: WMD = –10.3 mg/dL, P < 0.001; LDL cholesterol: WMD = –9.2 mg/dL, P < 0.001). HDL cholesterol and triglycerides were not significantly affected by walnut diets more than with control diets (HDL cholesterol: WMD = –0.2, P = 0.8; triglycerides: WMD = –3.9, P = 0.3). Other results reported in the trials indicated that walnuts provided significant benefits for certain antioxidant capacity and inflammatory markers and had no adverse effects on body weight [body mass index (kg/m2): WMD = –0.4, P = 0.5; weight (kg): WMD = –0.05, P = 0.97].
Conclusions: Overall, high-walnut-enriched diets significantly decreased total and LDL cholesterol for the duration of the short-term trials. Larger and longer-term trials are needed to address the effects of walnut consumption on cardiovascular risk and body weight.
Banel DK, Hu FB. Effects of walnut consumption on blood lipids and other cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul;90(1):56-63. Epub 2009 May 20. View Abstract
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