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Diet Lowers LDL Cholesterol by 13%

When LDL cholesterol - sometimes referred to as "bad" cholesterol - builds up in your bloodstream it can cause plaque to form, putting you at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and other health problems. Oftentimes doctors prescribe cholesterol lowering drugs for people with high cholesterol but a new study suggests that dietary changes could significantly lower bad cholesterol without the aid of prescription drugs.

Researchers with St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto in Canada conducted the study. The findings were published in the August 31, 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 351 adults with hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol and triglyceride levels), who were divided into three groups. The control group was counseled to eat a diet with a focus on high fiber, whole grains, and low saturated fat. The two test groups were given a diet focused on foods recognized by the US Food and Drug Administration as cholesterol lowering foods, such as soy proteins, nuts, and plant sterols.

In addition, one of the test groups received routine counseling of 2 clinic visits, while the other received intensive counseling of 7 clinic visits over 6 months during the same time period.

After 24 weeks, the researchers observed a 3% or 8 mg/dL reduction in the LDL levels of the control group. For the test groups that ate the cholesterol lowering foods, the group that received routine counseling saw a 13.1% or 24 mg/dL reduction and the group that received intensive counseling saw a 13.8% or 36 mg/dL reduction.

Some foods that have been shown to help lower cholesterol are fatty fish, walnuts, oatmeal and oat bran and foods fortified with plant sterols. It’s also important to watch your weight and increase the amount of exercise you get.

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