Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants
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BACKGROUND: 3-Hydroxy-3-methyl-glutaryl-coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors reduce serum cholesterol and are increasingly advocated in primary prevention to achieve reductions in LDL cholesterol. Newer dietary approaches combining cholesterol-lowering foods may offer another option, but these approaches have not been compared directly with statins in the same persons. OBJECTIVE: The objective was to compare, in the same subjects, the cholesterol-lowering potential of a dietary portfolio with that of a statin. DESIGN: Thirty-four hyperlipidemic participants underwent all three 1-mo treatments in random order as outpatients: a very-low-saturated-fat diet (control diet), the same diet plus 20 mg lovastatin (statin diet), and a diet high in plant sterols (1.0 g/1000 kcal), soy-protein foods (including soy milks and soy burgers, 21.4 g/1000 kcal), almonds (14 g/1000 kcal), and viscous fibers from oats, barley, psyllium, and the vegetables okra and eggplant (10 g/1000 kcal) (portfolio diets). Fasting blood samples were obtained at 0, 2, and 4 wk. RESULTS: LDL-cholesterol concentrations decreased by 8.5+/-1.9%, 33.3+/-1.9%, and 29.6+/-1.3% after 4 wk of the control, statin, and portfolio diets, respectively. Although the absolute difference between the statin and the portfolio treatments was significant at 4 wk (P=0.013), 9 participants (26%) achieved their lowest LDL-cholesterol concentrations with the portfolio diet. Moreover, the statin (n=27) and the portfolio (n=24) diets did not differ significantly (P=0.288) in their ability to reduce LDL cholesterol below the 3.4-mmol/L primary prevention cutoff. CONCLUSIONS: Dietary combinations may not differ in potency from first-generation statins in achieving current lipid goals for primary prevention. They may, therefore, bridge the treatment gap between current therapeutic diets and newer statins.
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