Soy, fibre, and nuts important for lowering ‘bad cholesterol’

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 24th August 2011

Research by some Canadians published this week by the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that when it comes to lowering LDL levels (the so-called ‘bad cholesterol’), what you eat is more important than what you don’t eat.

Certain cholesterol-friendly foods can be more effective in lowering levels of LDL, or ‘bad cholesterol’ than foods merely low in saturated fats, according to the Canadian researchers.

Led by Dr. David Jenkins, research chair in nutrition and metabolism at the University of Toronto, a team of researchers conducted a study from June 2007 to February 2009. Over six months, 351 adults with high cholesterol were told at doctor visits to follow either a vegetarian diet, or a low-fat diet focusing on low-fat dairy, whole grain cereals, fruit and vegetables. Both groups increased fibre and cut back on saturated fats.

The study found that a diet of plant-based fat and protein such as soy, fibre, and nuts did better at lowering levels of LDL than a diet low in saturated fats such as low fat dairy.

Those who followed diets rich in soy, nuts, and plant sterols, reduced their LDL levels by an average of 14% over the six months. In contrast, those who followed a more standard cholesterol-lowering diet reduced their LDL levels by an average of just 3%.

Dr. David Jenkins says, “This study indicated the potential value of using recognised cholesterol-lowering foods in combination. We believe this approach has clinical application.”