According to a new study, pecans can help health conscious consumers stick to their cholesterol-lowering regimens, and could even increase its effectiveness. In a controlled metabolic clinical study on the health benefits of pecans, researchers from Loma Linda University in California have discovered that a heart-healthy diet that incorporates pecans can significantly lower blood cholesterol levels. In fact, the daily addition of pecans more than doubled the effectiveness (cholesterol-lowering ability) of a traditional low-fat diet. The research was just published in the September issue of the Journal of Nutrition. Study participants were fed both a basic low-fat heart healthy diet (suggested when cholesterol levels are too high) and a similar diet that replaced 20 percent of the calories with pecans, by adding pecans to salads, cereal and entrees). Although both diets lowered total and bad cholesterol levels, the pecan diet, which contained 11 per cent more fat than the traditional heart-healthy diet, lowered cholesterol levels twice as much. According to researchers, the response to the pecan diet was equivalent to what some people experience with cholesterol-lowering drugs. In addition, even on the higher fat pecan diet, study participants did not gain weight. This study adds scientific support to a growing body of evidence supporting the increased use of pecans and other tree nuts in a heart-healthy diet.