Cholesterol-lowering foods may
be most effective when eaten in combination,
a Canadian study suggests.
The University of Toronto
study included 66 women and men, averaging just
over 59 years of age. All of the participants
ate a diet high in viscous fibers, soy protein,
almonds and plant sterol margarine -- all thought
to help lower cholesterol.
The participants were told to follow the diet
for a year and to keep records of what they
ate. They met every two months with the researchers
to discuss their progress and to have their
cholesterol levels measured.
After a year, more than 30 percent of the study
volunteers had successfully kept to the diet
and lowered their cholesterol levels by more
than 20 percent. That's comparable to what some
of the volunteers achieved after taking a cholesterol-lowering
statin drug for a month before they started
on the diet.
"The study's findings suggest that the
average person can do a lot to improve their
health through diet," study author David
Jenkins, professor in the department of nutritional
sciences and a Canada research chair in nutrition
and metabolism, said in a prepared statement.
"The participants found it easiest to
incorporate single items such as the almonds
and margarine into their daily lives,"
he said. "The fibers 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."
The findings appear in the current issue of
the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.