Can Almonds Lower Cholesterol?

The almond tree (scientific name: Prunus dulcis), native to the Middle East, is mostly known for its seed—the almond. Almonds have been used in many delicious dishes, ranging from elaborate desserts, salads, or even alone as a quick snack. Besides its important purpose in many dishes, there is also evidence that almonds have numerous health benefits, which include the reduction of inflammation, treating certain skin conditions (such as eczema), promoting heart health, and aiding colon health. In fact, almonds have been used in Ayurvedic medicine to improve the health of the brain and nervous system. However, there is also mounting evidence that almonds can also improve your cholesterol levels.

Diana Rattray

Do Almonds Lower Cholesterol?

There have been multiple studies that have looked at the effect that almonds have on lipids, and the results appear promising. These studies have looked at a wide range of individuals, including those with high cholesterol, normal cholesterol levels, diabetes, and who are obese, consuming anywhere between 20 to 168 g of almonds a day for 4 to 16 weeks. This is roughly equivalent to 1 to 6 handfuls of almonds a day. In some studies, almonds replaced some of the fats consumed in the diet, whereas in other cases, almonds were added to a healthy diet. Almonds used in these studies were either raw, roasted, or supplemented in other healthy foods.

Studies to date have suggested that almond consumption may be associated with reduced cholesterol levels of 3% to 25% and with reduced LDL cholesterol levels by 4% to 35%

Larger studies are required to confirm these promising results.

The effects of almonds on HDL cholesterol vary. While some studies have noted a slight increase in HDL of up to about 4%. other studies have seen no impact on HDL levels. In most studies, triglyceride levels also appear unaffected by almond consumption.

Bottom Line

There is evidence that almonds can help lower total cholesterol levels, LDL, and raise HDL cholesterol. While it is not fully known how they affect cholesterol levels, it may have something to do with one of the many nutrients contained in almonds.

Fiber, flavonoids, and unsaturated fats—all components in almonds—possess lipid-lowering properties. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration issued a qualified health claim for almonds and other nuts in 2003, allowing companies that manufacture nuts to label their products as "heart-healthy."

The almond heart health claim states (while it has not been proven) that evidence suggests that 1.5 ounces of nuts may reduce heart disease when used in conjunction with a healthy diet.

Unfortunately, more studies are needed to provide a direct link to almonds and improved cholesterol levels. In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to incorporate almonds into your diet, especially if you are going to substitute them with more cholesterol-damaging snacks, such as chips and cookies. However, you should make sure that you don't overdo it. Almonds, like any other food, have calories that can add to your waistline if too much of them are consumed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do almonds lower cholesterol?

    It is not fully understood how almonds work to lower cholesterol levels. It is likely due to nutrients in almonds that have lipid-lowering properties, such as fiber, flavonoids, and unsaturated fats.

  • How many almonds do I need to eat each day to lower cholesterol?

    A few handfuls. Studies that show almonds may help to lower cholesterol used between 20 g and 168 g of almonds a day for four to 16 weeks. That is the equivalent of one to six handfuls of almonds.

  • What other nuts lower cholesterol?

    In addition to almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, and pistachios may help to lower cholesterol. Peanuts, which are technically legumes and not nuts, may also help lower cholesterol.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Ros E. Health benefits of nut consumption. Nutrients. 2010;2(7):652-82. doi:10.3390/nu2070652

  2. Kalita S, Khandelwal S, Madan J, Pandya H, Sesikeran B, Krishnaswamy K. Almonds and cardiovascular health: a review. Nutrients. 2018;10(4). doi:10.3390/nu10040468

  3. Musa-veloso K, Paulionis L, Poon T, Lee HY. The effects of almond consumption on fasting blood lipid levels: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. J Nutr Sci. 2016;5:e34. doi:10.1017/jns.2016.19

  4. Jamshed H, Sultan FA, Iqbal R, Gilani AH. Dietary almonds increase serum HDL cholesterol in coronary artery disease patients in a randomized controlled trial. J Nutr. 2015;145(10):2287-92. doi:10.3945/jn.114.207944

  5. Phung OJ, Makanji SS, White CM, Coleman CI. Almonds have a neutral effect on serum lipid profiles: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009;109(5):865-73. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2009.02.014

  6. Food and Drug Administration. A Food Labeling Guide.

Additional Reading

By Jennifer Moll, PharmD
Jennifer Moll, MS, PharmD, is a pharmacist actively involved in educating patients about the importance of heart disease prevention.