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Do Nuts Have Cholesterol?
If you're worried about your cholesterol intake, you've likely made a conscious decision to increase your awareness of how much cholesterol is in the foods you eat. If this is the case, you've made a wise decision because excess cholesterol consumption is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In small amounts, cholesterol helps your body function properly, but if you consume too much, it can accumulate in your blood, stick to your arteries and put your heart at risk.
Nutrition in a Nutshell
The good news is that nuts are cholesterol-free. Only animal foods contain cholesterol 1. Even better news is nuts contain polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), both of which reduce cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation. A typical nut serving is 1 ounce, or 1/4 cup. Walnuts take the crown when it comes to polyunsaturated fat content. A 1-ounce serving contains 13 grams of polyunsaturated fats, compared to 3 grams in cashews and less than 1 gram in macadamia nuts. Macadamia nuts are richest in monounsaturated fat, containing 16 grams in a 1-ounce serving. Pecans deserve mention for being rich in PUFAs and MUFAs. A 1-ounce serving contains 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 12 grams of monounsaturated fat.
- The good news is that nuts are cholesterol-free.
- Macadamia nuts are richest in monounsaturated fat, containing 16 grams in a 1-ounce serving.
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- University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center: Cholesterol Content of Foods
- American Heart Association: Monounsaturated Fats
- American Heart Association: Polyunsaturated Fats
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Walnuts
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Almonds
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Macadamia Nuts
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Pecans
- Nuts, macadamia nuts, dry roasted, without salt added. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- American Heart Association. Monounsaturated fats. Updated June 1, 2015.
- Gordon B. How much protein should I eat?. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Updated May 28, 2019.
- DiNicolantonio JJ, OKeefe J. Dietary fats, blood pressure and artery health. Open Heart. 2019;6(1):e001035. doi:10.1136/openhrt-2019-001035
- Hemler EC, Hu FB. Plant-based diets for cardiovascular disease prevention: All plant foods are not created equal. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2019;21(5):18. doi:10.1007/s11883-019-0779-5
- Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvadó J, et al. Primary prevention of cardiovascular disease with a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts. N Engl J Med. 2018;378(25):e34. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1800389
- Stewart M. Macadamia nuts and cardiovascular disease risk factors: A review of clinical trials. FASEB J. 2015;29(1_supp):923-6. doi:10.1096/fasebj.29.1_supplement.923.6
- Kim Y, Keogh JB, Clifton PM. Benefits of nut consumption on insulin resistance and cardiovascular risk factors: Multiple potential mechanisms of actions. Nutrients. 2017;9(11). doi:10.3390/nu9111271
- Brehm BJ, Lattin BL, Summer SS, et al. One-year comparison of a high-monounsaturated fat diet with a high-carbohydrate diet in type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32(2):215-220. doi:10.2337/dc08-0687
- Lamuel-Raventos RM, Onge MS. Prebiotic nut compounds and human microbiota. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2017;57(14):3154-3163. doi:10.1080/10408398.2015.1096763
- McWilliam V, Peters R, Tang MLK, et al. Patterns of tree nut sensitization and allergy in the first 6 years of life in a population-based cohort. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2019;143(2):644-650.e5. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2018.07.038
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.