TUESDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Adding specific cholesterol-lowering foods, such as nuts, to your diet can lower your cholesterol more than a low-fat diet alone can, new research suggests.
Foods with plant sterols also have known cholesterol-reducing properties, and combined with a lower fat diet, they lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol by more than 13 percent. A low-fat diet alone produced only a 3 percent reduction in LDL, according to the study.
"Giving people a diet enriched with food components that the FDA has already allowed health claims to be made for, based on their cholesterol-lowering ability, lowered their LDL cholesterol between 13 and 14 percent," said Dr. David J.A. Jenkins, the Canada Research Chair in Nutrition, Metabolism and Vascular Biology at the University of Toronto.
Jenkins added that these people were already "diet-interested" and tended to have better-than-average diets. "The extra effort of choosing the right foods had a very good effect," he noted.
The study received funding from the Canadian government and several large food companies including Unilever, which makes the Becel line of cholesterol-lowering foods. The findings were published in the Aug. 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
High levels of LDL cholesterol are a concern because this type of cholesterol can build up on artery walls, increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Ideal levels of LDL cholesterol are under 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), according to the NHLBI. Levels between 100 and 129 mg/dL are considered near optimal.
Changes in diet, such as eating fewer foods that contain animal fat or more foods high in fiber, can lower cholesterol levels, though these reductions may be modest. Certain foods, however, are more likely to reduce cholester
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