A new University of Toronto study by Professor David Jenkins encourages people to take a combination of cholesterol-lowering foods as soy protein, almonds, plant sterol margarines, oats and barley. Since these may reduce cholesterol levels more effectively than being eaten in isolation.
The study is published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Another finding of the study was that among the subjects who adhered to the diet (one third of test group), this combination of foods reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) in similar ways as a first generation statin.
"The benefit of statins to individuals at high risk for cardiovascular disease is not in question here. Previous studies have demonstrated that statins can reduce heart disease risk between 25 and 50 per cent. We don't, however, know the long-term effects of these drugs when used on a large section of the broader population who are at low risk in primary prevention. Taking a pill may give people the false impression that they have nothing further to do to protect their health and prevent them from making serious lifestyle changes. Emphasizing diet changes in general can boost the success rate of statins while providing additional health benefits and a possible alternative for those for whom drugs are not a viable option," was the opinion and statement of Dr. Jenkins.
A seven-day menu high in viscous fibres, soy protein, almonds and plant sterol margarine was administered to 66 people -- 31 men and 35 women with an average age of 59.3 and within 30 percent of their recommended cholesterol targets.
Dr. Jenkins told, "The participants found it easiest to incorporate single items such as the almonds and margarine into their daily lives. The fibres 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."
After 12 months, more than 30 per cent of the participants had successfully adhered to the diet and lowered their cholesterol levels by more than 20 per cent.
In conclusion Dr. Jenkins said, "The study's findings suggest that the average person can do a lot to improve their health through diet. People interested in lowering their cholesterol should probably acquire a taste for tofu and oatmeal, keeping in mind that portable alternatives fit best with a modern lifestyle. Save the experimenting for the evening, when you have more time to prepare more complicated meals."