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Healthy Recipe Doctor

with Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

Elaine Magee's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support she has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Foods That Help Lower Your Cholesterol

It’s not what you take away but what you add to your diet that might lower your LDL blood cholesterol levels effectively, according to a new Canadian study in the August 24/31 issues of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

When people with high cholesterol added specific items — soy protein, nuts, viscous fibers, and plant sterols — to their diets for longer than six months, their LDL cholesterol levels decreased more than those of similar people eating a diet low in saturated fat.

This diet, known as The Portfolio Eating Plan, isn’t new. It was developed more than eight years ago by researchers in Toronto.

Substituting soy-based foods for meat and eating a handful of nuts each day seems fairly straightforward, but where do you find foods rich in viscous fiber and plant sterols?

Foods rich in viscous fiber include:

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Psyllium (contained in products like Metamucil)
  • Vegetables like okra and eggplant

Plant sterols are available in capsule form as dietary supplements. There are also margarine products fortified with plant sterols, and you can find small amounts in many healthful plant foods including:

  • Avocado, 1 small = 132 mg phytosterols
  • Soybeans, 1 cup = 90 mg
  • Chickpeas, 1/2 cup = 25 mg
  • Almonds, 1 ounce (about 23) = 34 mg
  • Olive oil, 1 tablespoon = 30 mg

The average American daily diet contains around 250 to 500 mg of plant sterols, but Portfolio research suggests 2,000 mg per day as part of a 2,000 calorie per day diet.

For details on the Portfolio Eating Plan, review these WebMD articles:

Posted by: Elaine Magee, RD at 5:58 pm

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