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Eat Cholesterol-Lowering Foods in Combination: Study

Choosing the right foods lowered blood fats just as well as drug therapy

SATURDAY, March 18, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Cholesterol-lowering foods may be most effective when eaten in combination, a Canadian study suggests.

The University of Toronto study included 66 women and men, averaging just over 59 years of age. All of the participants ate a diet high in viscous fibers, soy protein, almonds and plant sterol margarine -- all thought to help lower cholesterol.

The participants were told to follow the diet for a year and to keep records of what they ate. They met every two months with the researchers to discuss their progress and to have their cholesterol levels measured.

After a year, more than 30 percent of the study volunteers had successfully kept to the diet and lowered their cholesterol levels by more than 20 percent. That's comparable to what some of the volunteers achieved after taking a cholesterol-lowering statin drug for a month before they started on the diet.

"The study's findings suggest that the average person can do a lot to improve their health through diet," study author David Jenkins, professor in the department of nutritional sciences and a Canada research chair in nutrition and metabolism, said in a prepared statement.

"The participants found it easiest to incorporate single items such as the almonds and margarine into their daily lives," he said. "The fibers and vegetable protein were more challenging since they require more planning and preparation, and because these types of niche products are less available. It's just easier, for example, to buy a beef burger instead of one made from soy, although the range of options is improving. We considered it ideal if the participants were able to follow the diet three quarters of the time."

The findings appear in the current issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about cholesterol.

SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, March 8, 2006
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