Eating Away Cholesterol Levels

Lower cholesterol levels with certain foods

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Eating right and exercising are essential elements in maintaining heart health, but achieving that is sometimes difficult. Do low fat diets or foods with cholesterol lowering properties work best?

Each person is unique so one method may not be best for everyone, but researchers did find that foods that are known to have cholesterol lowering properties work better to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. So if a low-fat diet isn’t working for you, try something different.

"Eat nuts, soy and fiber to lower cholesterol levels."

David J. A. Jenkins, M.D., from the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center, and team of researchers studied the difference between a low-fat diet and the dietary portfolio which was foods that have cholesterol-lowering properties.

The dietary portfolio consisted of plant sterols in the form of a plant-sterol ester-enriched margarine, viscous fiber from oats, barley and psyllium, soy from milk, tofu and soy meat, and nuts. The dietary portfolio was based on a vegetarian diet so peas, beans and lentils were highly encouraged.

Plant sterols are a natural substance found in plants/vegetables and fruits. They help prevent cholesterol from being absorbed in the bloodstream. Viscous fiber is part of the soluble fiber family. Soluble fiber forms a gel to help slow digestion and lower cholesterol.

Participants who were in the dietary portfolio group were also required to attend meetings to learn about foods that could help lower cholesterol levels. One group had a routine visit, which is two clinical visits of 40 to 60 minutes and the other had an intensive routine. The intensive routine was seven clinical visits of 40 to 60 minutes over a six month period.

Both dietary portfolio groups lowered their LDL levels by the end of the study with no significant difference in the number of clinical visits. This overall reduction was lower than LDL levels seen in participants who were in the low-fat diet group. Participants in the dietary portfolio group also reduced their risk of coronary heart disease by 10.8 percent for the routine group and 11.3 percent for the intensive group.

The study lasted from June 25, 2007 to February 19, 2009 and included 345 participants – both men and women.

The research is published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 25, 2011
Last Updated:
August 28, 2011