A Good Diet Helps Lower Bad Cholesterol
26 Aug, 2011 - 04:32pm
With one in four adults over the age of 45 in the United States needing to take cholesterol-lowering drugs, also known as statin medications, it’s apparent that bad cholesterol (also referred to as low-density lipoprotein or LDL cholesterol) is almost an epidemic.
Those with cholesterol of over 160mg/dL are considered to have High Cholesterol.
Dr David Jenkins from the University of Toronto says, “There’s no question that statins have made a major difference in term of cardiovascular disease control… [but] we can only get so far with statins.”
Jenkins and his team of researchers wanted to see if something else could lower bad cholesterol, such as changing one’s diet.
To perform the study, 351 Canadian participants who had high cholesterol were randomly split into three different groups. One of the groups received nutrition counseling which helped promote a low-saturated fat diet for 6 months.
The other two participating groups received help from dieticians. The dieticians would help the participants include more cholesterol-lowering foods into their diet, such as nuts, peas, soy milk, tofu, and beans, into their diet. Some of the participants met up with the dietician twice throughout the study, and some up to seven times. Each of the diets in provided were vegetarian.
Participants who were in the cholesterol-lowering group had been encouraged to include approximately one gram of plant sterols in an enriched margarine for every 1000 calories of food they consumed. They were also asked to add 10g of fiber to their diets (in the form of barley, oats and psyllium), 22.5g of soy protein and 22.5 grams of nuts per every 1000 calories.
Six months later, those who participated in the low-saturated fat group saw an average drop in bad cholesterol by 8mg per dL, or deciliter. That was then compared to the 24mg/dL and 26mg/dL decreases in those participants who had the cholesterol-lowering diets.
One in five of the participants had dropped out before the full six months had elapsed, and a lot of the participants who stuck with it had a hard time with the diet plan, but most saw a drop in their cholesterol. Everyone who was in the study and who was already taking statins was asked to stop taking the medication during the “diet intervention”. Jenkins deduced that how diet and statins could lower bad cholesterol in combination with one another still requires further research.
“A lot of people rely on medication, but diet is really powerful actually,” Jenkins told Reuters Health. “[People] think that if they’re on statins, they can do anything they want, they can eat the high-fat foods because the statins are going to take care of that.”
If one is not interested in changing their diet, then they would be better suited to taking statins. However, for those who are interested in changing their diet rather than taking medications, this would be a “reasonable option”.
“The diet only is enough for the majority of people that have a not-so-good lifestyle,” Dr Joan Sabate, head of nutrition at Loma Linda University of California said. “By changing the diet and their lifestyle they can establish good control of their cholesterol.” It's to be noted that higher levels of bad cholesterol is the main cause of Heart Attack, which is a leading cause of death and morbidity across the world. Hence a simple change to healthy diet could probably go a long way in saving millions of lifes worldwide.