Scientists have found that eating more oats and nuts – instead of just avoiding foods which are high in fat – could help to lower cholesterol.
They discovered that a diet which contained foods known to lower cholesterol was more effective than simply avoiding saturated fats.
The most effective diet also contained soy products such as meat substitutes, tofu and milk. Eating more beans, lentils and peas was also encouraged.
The Canadian research team also found that a significant reduction in ‘bad’ cholesterol could result from a six month change in diet. If the diet was sustained for a longer period then it could also lead to an 11 percent reduction in the risk of heart disease over a 10 year period.
During the research, patients suffering from high levels of cholesterol were divided into three different groups. One group were recommended to eat a diet low in fat, including vegetables and fruit.
The remaining two groups were advised to follow a dietary ‘portfolio’ which consisted of specific foods that were known to reduce cholesterol levels such as oats, nuts, lentils and so products.
One of these two groups underwent counselling during two separate clinic visits whilst the other received a more rigorous series of seven clinic visits.
Six months later researchers found that the group which had followed a simple low fat diet had experienced a 3 percent fall in cholesterol.
In contrast, the groups that had introduced cholesterol-lowering foods both experienced reductions of more than 13 percent. 13.8 percent for the group which made seven visits and 13.1 percent for the group which made two visits.
A spokeswoman for the Heart Foundation claimed that the research was encouraging but emphasised that people should be aware that following a diet plan of this type takes commitment.
It was also pointed out that everybody on the trial was already following a diet low in saturated fat and this should be the primary advice to those people who need or want to lower their cholesterol.