Food intervention as effective as medication for lowering cholesterol

Food intervention as effective as medication for lowering cholesterol
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Research revealed that “food-as-medicine” is a simple, viable solution to lowering cholesterol in many patients unable or unwilling to take statin drugs.

High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease. In America, it affects nearly 94 million people and one in two adults over the age of 50. Most doctors quickly prescribe drugs like statins for lowering cholesterol; however, a new study found an effective food-based alternative for the millions of Americans impacted – especially for those concerned with medication side effects.

The results of the international study are published in the Journal of Nutrition and was conducted at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and Richardson Centre at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Lowering cholesterol with food

The study demonstrated that for many individuals, a “food as medicine” approach can be as effective as medications for lowering cholesterol without the need for drastic lifestyle changes.

“Based on the outcomes seen in our study, using this type of food as a medicine approach expands the options for medical professionals and patients,” said Stephen Kopecky, M.D, FACC, cardiologist and Director of the Statin Intolerance Clinic at Mayo Clinic. “Many patients who are unwilling or unable to take statin drugs may be able to help manage their high cholesterol, or hyperlipidaemia with a realistic food-based intervention.”

By substituting only a small portion of what hyperlipidaemic patients were eating – Step One Foods – a twice per day dosed eating system with products precisely formulated to help lower LDL cholesterol, researchers found rapid and highly significant cholesterol reductions. Ultimately, participants saw an average 9% decrease in LDL (bad) cholesterol within 30 days, with some experiencing more than 30% LDL cholesterol reductions.

Whole food diet

During the intervention phase, participants ate an assortment of whole food-based snacks from Step One Foods, such as chocolate bars and smoothies. The foods were made entirely from real ingredients like walnuts, which are known for lowering cholesterol. These study foods were specifically formulated to deliver a nutrient compendium of whole food fibre, plant sterols, ALA omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Participants were instructed to consume these snacks in exchange for similar foods they were consuming already to understand their effect on lowering cholesterol.

The researchers also compared the results of Step One Foods with comparable leading grocery store brands that are considered “better for you” foods. Each participant consumed these leading brands for 30 days to understand their impact on lowering cholesterol and found that no cholesterol reductions were seen during this phase of the study.

“Nutrition contributes to five of the seven modifiable risk factors for heart disease, but getting patients to change diet is incredibly challenging,” said Elizabeth Klodas MD, FACC. “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.”


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