Dietary Intervention Lowers LDL Cholesterol

A dietary intervention may be as effective for lowering cholesterol as statin medications, according to the results of recent study.

The researchers aimed to examine whether snack foods containing cholesterol-lowering ingredients could be an effective alternative to medication in adults with high cholesterol who were unable or unwilling to take statin medications.

Included in the randomized, double-blind, multicenter study were 18 men and 36 women with hyperlipidemia who were randomly assigned to the control or intervention groups. Individuals in the intervention group were assigned to substitute their usual foods for a variety of ready-to-eat snacks twice daily. These snacks included 5 g or more of fiber, 1000 mg omega-3 (n-3) fatty acids, 1000 mg phytosterols, and 1800 μmol antioxidants per serving. Calorie-matched like-items were used as the control. All participants were discouraged from changing other health behaviors.

Participants consumed their study foods for 2 phases of 4 weeks each, with a 4-week break in between phases. Of the total participants, 95% adhered to the study foods. The serum 18:3n–3 concentration assessment was used to determine participant adherence.

The results indicated that fasting low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was reduced by a mean ± standard deviation (SD) of 8.80 ± 1.69% (P < .0001), when comparing intervention phase endpoints for treatment and control foods. Similarly, total cholesterol was reduced by a mean ± SD of 5.08 ± 1.12% (P < .0001).

However, there were no observed effects on any other secondary outcomes between treatment groups. Measurements of triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting glucose, insulin, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein concentrations, and single-nucleotide polymorphisms were among the secondary outcomes that were examined.

“Consumption of hedonically acceptable snacks containing a compendium of cholesterol-lowering bioactive compounds can rapidly and meaningfully reduce LDL cholesterol in adult patients unable or unable to take statin drugs,” the researchers concluded.


—Leigh Precopio



Kopecky SL, Alias S, Klodas E, Jones PJH. Reduction in serum LDL cholesterol using a nutrient compendium in hyperlipidemic adults unable or unwilling to use statin therapy: a double-blind randomized crossover clinical trial. J Nutr. Published online January 26, 2022.