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Aug 25, 2011

Dietary Changes Lowers the “"Bad"” Cholesterol

The idea that elevated cholesterol levels must always be managed with statin drugs is a frequent misconception.  Many people, including health care professionals, still discount the important role that diet plays in cardiovascular health.  A new study published in JAMA provides evidence that implementing appropriate dietary changes (beyond the well-known limitation of saturated fats) can significantly improve cholesterol profiles. 

In this study, 345 people with high cholesterol were assigned 3 separate dietary plans:  a diet low in saturated fat; a diet high in foods known to reduce cholesterol (soy, fiber, and plant sterols), with two dietary counseling sessions; or a diet high in those same cholesterol-lowering foods, with 7 dietary counseling sessions.  After a period of 6 months, those people assigned diets high in cholesterol-lowering foods plus either 2 or 7 sessions of counseling lowered their LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) by at least 13% (equivalent to a decrease of at least 24 mg/dL).  Those people assigned the low saturated fat diet had a reduction of only 3% (equivalent to a decrease of 8 mg/dL).

The use of statin drugs is correlated with a number of unpleasant side effects, including damage to muscles and depletion of the important antioxidant CoQ10.  If you are looking to improve your cardiovascular health and cholesterol profile, why not start with the proper diet, nutritional, and lifestyle changes?  More often than not, these types of changes will be all that are necessary to optimize cardiovascular health.  If not, your naturopathic doctor will help you determine the additional natural therapies that will get you to where you need and want to be.

Dr. Shana McQueen