Cholesterol-lowering foods may be more beneficial than low-fat foods

August 25, 2011

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that cholesterol-lowering foods reduce harmful LDL cholesterol more than low-fat foods. According to the researchers, these cholesterol-lowering foods include: foods containing substances called plant sterols such as enhanced margarines; foods with significant amounts of viscous fiber such as oats and barley; soy protein found in soy milk, tofu, and soy meat substitutes; and nuts such as tree nuts and peanuts.

The researchers recruited 351 people in their 50s from across Canada. The study volunteers were randomly placed into one of three groups: a control group that was given advice on a low-fat, high-fiber diet (103 people); the routine dietary portfolio that included the healthy diet advice, plus advice on incorporating cholesterol-lowering foods into the diet (124 people); and the intensive dietary portfolio group that was given the same advice as the routine dietary portfolio group, but received an additional five study visits during a 6-month period (124 people).

During the study, 18 people dropped out or were withdrawn from the control group, 28 left or were withdrawn from the routine dietary portfolio group, and 32 dropped out or had to be withdrawn from the intensive group. The researchers found that LDL cholesterol went down 3% for the control group, while the routine dietary portfolio group dropped their LDL levels by 13.1%, and the intensive group experienced a 13.8% drop in LDL cholesterol.

The researchers concluded: “Use of a dietary portfolio compared with the low-saturated fat dietary advice resulted in greater LDL-C lowering during 6 months of follow-up.”