New research shows a diet that consists of healthy foods, including almonds, may be as effective in lowering cholesterol as certain drugs. Researchers say incorporating almonds into one's diet might help to moderately lower cholesterol levels. The easiest substitutions to try might include a snack of almonds instead of popcorn, pretzels or potato chips.
Researchers studied a group of people with high cholesterol levels to determine whether following a specific diet can reduce those levels. The participants were divided into three groups. The first group followed a low-fat diet that included whole-wheat cereals and dairy foods. The second group followed the same diet and also took a 20-milligram cholesterol-lowering pill each day. The third group followed the "Portfolio" eating plan, which includes a diet high in soy, fiber and almonds.
Results of the study show those who followed the Portfolio diet plan lowered their LDL or "bad" cholesterol by more than 30 percent. Researchers say the diet was as effective in managing cholesterol as taking a starting dose of cholesterol-lowering drugs. Previous studies have also shown the Portfolio plan has consistently displayed a "drug-like" effect in improving cholesterol levels.
Thus researchers say the almonds, which are high in vitamin E, may have been a factor in lowering the participants' C-reactive protein levels. High levels of C-reactive proteins are an indication of inflamed arteries and a risk factor for heart disease.