According to a new study, a diet including things like soy protein and nuts lowers LDL or “bad” cholesterol more than statin drugs or a low-fat diet.
The study found that people who ate a healthy diet filed with cholesterol-lowering foods experienced an average 13 percent decrease in their LDL cholesterol levels.
“The main takeaway here is that people can lower their cholesterol with diet if they put their minds to it,” Dr. David Jenkins, a professor of nutrition and metabolism at University of Toronto and lead author of the study, said in a press release. “These can be small changes. We’re not asking people to live behind bars.”
Jenkins created the portfolio diet, which includes four types of foods recognized by the FDA for their ability to lower cholesterol. These four foods include soy protein, sticky fiber, plant sterol esters and nuts.
The researchers compared the effectiveness of the portfolio diet to a traditional low-fat diet in lowering LDL cholesterol in 351 people with high cholesterol.
They randomly divided people into three groups that received counseling about the portfolio diet in two sessions or a more intensive seven sessions over a six-month period or followed a standard low-fat diet for six months.
The researchers found that the regular intensively counseled portfolio diet group both experienced a reduction in LDL cholesterol of about 13 percent compared with a 3 percent reduction in the low-fat diet group.
According to Jenkins, the study suggests that the mix of plant-based foods in the portfolio diet achieve cholesterol-lowering results similar to what can be achieved through drugs.
“Given that cardiovascular disease is our major killer, we feel that a lot of people will benefit to a greater or lesser extent by adopting this diet, which is basically a plant-based approach,” Jenkins told WebMD. “Those who may want to follow the diet more specifically are those who are on the cusp for statin treatment.”
The research was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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