Australian Experts Suggest 12-week Eating Regimen to Lower Cholesterol Levels

by Gopalan on Sep 29 2008 5:14 PM

Australian experts have drawn up a 12-week regimen to lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure and thus reduce risks of heart disease death.

The CSIRO Healthy Heart Program being released tomorrow halves the amount of red meat suggested in the earlier Total Wellbeing Diet, it is reported. CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, is Australia's national science agency.

Heart disease accounts for more than one-third of all Australian deaths. With 90 percent of Australians exhibiting at least one risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the CSIRO's latest diet book is expected to match the success of its Total Wellbeing Diet book, which has sold more than 1million copies since its release three years ago.

That diet was criticised for including up to one kilogram of red meat a week, despite National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines recommending up to 100grams just three to four times a week. Nutritionists wrote to former Prime Minister John Howard warning of the diet's perceived health risks.

A dietitian and cardiologist who saw advance copies of the Healthy Heart Program said they noticed big changes from the previous diet with less beef and lamb on the menu, and more fish, vegetables and legumes.

"The issues that were raised with the first book by nutritionists and dietitians appear to be addressed by increasing non-meat protein sources like beans, and increasing the content of fish," said Catherine Itsiopoulos, a research dietitian from Melbourne University.

"The focus of this diet is a higher content in soluble fibre from cereal and beans which target cholesterol … I like the fact there are beans [for] protein and fish three times a week."

Meat portions have been reduced from 200grams to between 100 and 150grams. The new diet recommends up to four serves a week and includes chicken and pork, reports Sydney Morning Herald.

Diet co-author Manny Noakes denied the changes were in response to criticism. "What we have done is perhaps provide a bit more diversity in eating styles," Dr Noakes said.

"Not everybody needs to lose weight or to have a lot of protein; by providing high-carbohydrate and high-protein options it gives people the ability to find the style of meal that suits them. If they are struggling to lose weight then a high-protein diet option would work best, but if they don't have that as a problem, more starchy foods as part of their main meals is a good option."

Cardiologist Professor David Hare from Austin Health in Melbourne said the book was suitable for people who needed a regimented diet. "It controls what you buy, the way you prepare food, and for a lot of people who have tried other things and failed, it's sometimes an advantage … there is some red meat but [if you have] small portions only a couple of times a week, that's quite all right."

Dr Itsiopoulos also recommended a diet rich in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.