New Diet Similar to Drugs for Cholesterol Lowering
diet high in sterols, soy, fiber, and almonds can achieve low
density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol lowering comparable
to that achieved with a low-dose statin and better than a low-fat
diet, a new study shows.
The study randomized 46 people with
high LDL cholesterol to one of three four-week treatments:
1) a vegetarian control
whole grains and low-fat dairy products; 2) the control diet
plus 20 mg of lovastatin (Mevacor) daily; or 3) an investigational
vegetarian diet emphasizing sterols (natural plant compounds),
soy protein, soluble fiber (mainly from oats, barley, psyllium,
eggplant, and okra), and almonds.
LDL cholesterol decreased
significantly more in the investigational-diet group and the
lovastatin group (29% and 31%, respectively)
than in the control group (8%). (Higher doses of
or more potent statins can lower LDL cholesterol by 50%.)
Levels of C-reactive protein, a marker for inflammation
and a heart-disease
risk factor, decreased significantly less in the control
group (10%) than in the investigational-diet group and
medication group (28% and 33%, respectively).
guidelines recommend consuming 25 g of soluble fiber daily
and possible inclusion of 2 g of plant sterols
of intake of soy and nuts have not been established,
but these foods have potential heart benefits.
Journal of the
American Medical Association
Volume 290, pages 502 and 531
July 23/30, 2003