If you've got high cholesterol, chances are you're taking statins. You may also be on a diet low in saturated fat.
But rather than focusing on the high-fat foods to banish from your diet, a new Canadian study of 345 patients points to a group of foods to add to lower the "bad" LDL cholesterol and significantly lower your risk for heart attack or stroke.
Patients who ate a so-called dietary portfolio that included soy proteins, viscous or "sticky" fibres, nuts and plant sterols experienced a 13 per cent decrease in their LDL levels. A control group who ate a diet low in saturated fats only sayw a 3 per cent decrease. The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"The main takeaway here is that people can lower their cholesterol with diet if they put their minds to it," David Jenkins, a professor of nutrition and metabolism at University of Toronto and lead author of the study told ABC News. "These can be small changes. We're not asking people to live behind bars."
What's more, the researchers found that hearing this advice just twice from a dietitian is enough for patients to get the message, according to a release issued by the University of Toronto.
The dietary advice was given to patients at one of two levels of intensity – two times in six months ("routine") or seven times in six months ("intensive"). Sessions involved a 40 to 60 minute check-in and diet monitoring, and the sharing of diet journals. Results were the same for both the routine and intense groups, according to the release.
The control group did not receive any dietary advice during the six month period, except that they were placed on a healthy low-saturated fat diet.
This doesn't mean that people on statins should go dump their drugs for tofu, Cleveland Clinic cardiologist Steve Nissen, who was not involved in the study, told the L.A. Times.
"Patients don't want to take the medications, and I'm afraid that if you tell them there's a diet that works just as well, then they'll do that instead," he said.
How do you combat high cholesterol? Do you keep an eye on new research like this? Edamame for lunch, then?