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. 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.
- University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center: Cholesterol Content of Foods
- University of Michigan Integrative Medicine: Healthy Fats
- 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