Can Walnuts Help Reduce Cholesterol Levels?

An important component of plant-based diets is the frequent consumption of nuts, which has been associated with 15% lower total cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 23% lower CVD mortality rates. 

Last year, a group of researchers performed a study in which they evaluated the effects of walnut-supplemented diets in healthy elderly adults. The study was published in the journal Circulation. 

Reduction in Bad Cholesterol Levels (LDL) 

LDL cholesterol is often called the “bad” cholesterol because it collects in the walls of your blood vessels, raising your chances of health problems like a heart attack or stroke.

The research team hypothesized that incorporating walnuts into the usual diet would improve the lipid profile. The study was performed over 2 years in 2 centers, one in Barcelona, Spain, and another one in California, USA. 

All of the participants were cognitively healthy between the ages of 63 and 79 without major comorbidities. The study included a total of 708 participants that were randomized to have either a walnut-free diet or a walnut-supplemented diet. At baseline, they were evaluated for glucose, cholesterol, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. 

The walnut diet significantly decreased (mg/dL) total cholesterol levels, LDL cholesterol, and intermediate-density lipoprotein cholesterol, with reductions of 4.4%, 3.6%, and 16.8% respectively. No changes were observed in triglyceride levels and HDL cholesterol levels. 

It is important to notice that no differences in results were observed between the participants from the US and Spain, which strengthens the generalization of the results. 

Overall, the results demonstrated that incorporating daily doses of walnuts into the habitual diet of free-living elderly individuals with an essentially normal lipid profile resulted in reductions in the LCL cholesterol levels. The decrease was modest but according to the researchers greater responses have been observed among individuals with hypercholesterolemia. 


Sujatha Rajaram, et al.  Effects of Walnut Consumption for 2 Years on Lipoprotein Subclasses Among Healthy Elders Findings From the WAHA Randomized Controlled Trial.  2021. Circulation. 2021;144:1083–1085.

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