Researchers from California and Spain have concluded that regular peanut consumption improves cholesterol levels and contributes to heart health, following data collated from 25 nut consumption trials across seven countries.

A total of 583 men and women took part in the trials, which revealed that people with higher levels of ’bad’ cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides (blood fats) and those consuming poorer-quality diets, would gain the greatest benefit from regular nut consumption, according to the researchers.

The studies showed those consuming the nuts frequently about 67g per day reduced their total cholesterol by 5.1% and LDL by 7.4%. Their ratio of LDL to ’good’ HDL cholesterol also changed by 8.3% in a favourable direction.

Dr Joan Sabaté from Loma Linda University, California, lead investigator for the study, recently published in Archives of Internal Medicine, said: "Results of this study provide the best evidence yet that eating nuts reduces LDL cholesterol and improves the blood lipids profile. So a simple change of eating nuts regularly can make a big difference to people’s health."

Ellen Mason, a senior cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, said that adding nuts in place of saturated fats could help to improve cholesterol levels for many people.