High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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Statins have quickly become the mainstay of high cholesterol treatment, but the drug’s adverse effects see many put off by the drug. In a recent study, researchers have identified a new dietary approach to lower bad cholesterol, which delivers promising results in just days. Researchers say the results delivered are “rapid and highly significantly”, and are on par with cholesterol-lowering drugs.
The “groundbreaking” study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, is the “first of its kind” to demonstrate that a nutritional approach to lowering cholesterol can be as effective as medication, reports EurekAlert.
For their research, a team led by Mayo Clinic conducted a double crossover randomised study.
During the first phase of the study, participants ate mainly whole food-based snacks which included chocolate bars and strawberry-banana smoothies.
All snacks comprised real ingredients including walnuts, which can positively impact cholesterol profiles.
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The products used in the study were provided by the food program Step One Foods, which produces snacks packed with nutrients.
The diet was designed to deliver an array of key nutrients including whole food fibre, plant sterols, ALA omega 3 fatty kids and antioxidants.
Plant sterols are beneficial to treat high cholesterol because they help prevent the body from absorbing the fatty molecules.
Legumes, vegetable oils, nuts, cereals and seeds are all good sources of plant sterols.
Some studies have even established that the plant-based compound is one of the most effective natural treatments for the condition.
The study’s participants were asked to eat these snacks in exchange for similar foods they were already consuming.
In doing so, researchers observed rapid and highly significant cholesterol reductions, reports EurekAlert.
Ultimately, participants saw an average of nine percent decrease in LDL cholesterol within 30 days, with some experiencing more than 30 percent LDL cholesterol reductions.
Elizabeth Klodas, founder and Chief Medical Officer of Step One Foods, noted: “Nutrition contributes to five of the seven modifiable risk factors for heart disease, but getting patients to change diet is incredibly challenging.
“This study underscores what’s possible when we succeed.
“The implications of attaining such a significant cholesterol impact from a small food-based intervention are profound. We could change the health of our country in 30 days.”
In previous research, diets that combined an assortment of oats, almonds, soy and plant sterols have yielded similar results.
Oats prevent cholesterol from being reabsorbed into the gut and have other known benefits for blood lipids.
Soy, on the other hand, has been shown to inhibit cholesterol synthesis in the liver.
Stephen Kopecky, cardiologist and Director of the Statin Intolerance Clinic at Mayo Clinic, said: “Based on the outcomes seen in our study, using this type of food as medicine approach expands the options for medical professionals and patients.
“Many patients who are unwilling or unable to take statin drugs may be able to help manage their high cholesterol or hyperlipidemia with a realistic food-based intervention.”
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