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One Major Effect of Eating Cashews, Says Science

Do you include cashews in your bag of trail mix? If not, maybe this piece of information will make you consider otherwise when you go to make your next batch—cashews may help to improve your heart health.

That's right, several studies have suggested that regularly eating cashews could result in a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. In general, incorporating more nuts into your diet could provide heart health benefits. Research has shown that eating just two ounces of nuts daily can lower levels of the harmful type of cholesterol (LDL) by as much as 5%.

RELATED: The #1 Best Nut to Eat to Reduce Inflammation, Says Dietitian

However, some studies have linked eating a few individual nuts to lower blood cholesterol levels. For example, one 2019 study found that those with type 2 diabetes who devoted 10% of their daily calories to cashews had a lower ratio of LDL to HDL (the good kind of cholesterol) levels than those who didn't enjoy any cashews.

salted cashews

The results from one 2017 study demonstrated that eating cashews boosts HDL cholesterol levels while lowering total cholesterol and LDL levels. Another study from 2018 even linked cashew consumption with lower blood pressure levels.

Still, some research indicates that the effects cashews have on lowering harmful blood cholesterol levels are a bit inconclusive. For example, one 2019 review suggests that while consistently munching on cashews may help to lower blood pressure levels and triglyceride (the type of fat found in your blood) levels, they had no effect on lowering total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol levels.

Keep in mind there are a limited number of studies that explore cashew intake and heart health, which, in part, may explain the conflicting results. In fact, it may be best to eat a variety of nuts to reap heart health benefits.

For example, one large 2018 study showed that eating peanuts and tree nuts twice a week and walnuts once a week was associated with a 13%-19% reduced risk of any form of cardiovascular disease and a 15%-23% lower risk of coronary heart disease. 

Next time you're at the grocery store, don't forget to pick up some nuts (cashews included!) to add to your morning bowl of granola or pair with some fruit for a healthy snack.

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