Researchers say following a cholesterol-lowering diet based on soy, nuts, and green vegetables is more likely to reduce bad cholesterol than a low fat diet.
A new study of 351 Canadians with high cholesterol showed that the cholesterol-lowering foods decreased participants' low-density lipoprotein (LDL) by about 13 percent after six months, reducing their risk of heart attack and stroke over the next 10 years by about 11 percent on average.
Those who followed a traditional diet low in saturated fat experienced only 3 percent reduction in LDL level.
according to the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), participants who were on cholesterol-lowering diet consumed food that included plant-based sterols supplied by a special margarine, soy protein from tofu, soy milk, and soy-based meat substitutes, as well as viscous fiber from oats, barley, and psyllium, and nuts.
"Each one of these ingredients will help you, but when they all work together, you'll get the strongest results," said study author Peter Jones of the University of Toronto. "Plant-based sterols alone can lower your cholesterol by 5 percent. When you add in fiber and nuts and soy, the story just keeps getting better.”
"The main takeaway here is that people can lower their cholesterol with diet if they put their minds to it," he added. "These can be small changes. We're not asking people to live behind bars."
Researchers emphasized that the key point for taking benefits of the cholesterol-lowering diet is to replace choices high in saturated fat with healthier, plant-based options and make smart swaps throughout the day rather than measuring out specific amounts of each ingredient.