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Lower Your Cholesterol with a Plant-Centered Diet

Lower Your Cholesterol with a Plant-Centered Diet

A diet rich in plant protein, viscous fiber, plant sterols and nuts can keep your lousy LDL cholesterol at bay.

On an episode of The Office, Dwight gladly switches to a new company health insurance plan, which doesn’t cover anything. Asked why, he says, “Never been sick. Superior brain power. Through sheer concentration, I can raise and lower my cholesterol.” “Why would you want to raise your cholesterol?” an officemate asks. “So I can lower it,” Dwight responds.

High LDL cholesterol’s not, in fact, a laughing matter. It ups the risk of heart disease, stroke and peripheral artery disease. And no one possesses Dwight’s lipid-loopy powers. So be conscientious and rely on diet—even when taking statins—to help keep your lousy LDL cholesterol under 70mg/dL and good HDL above 50mg/dL. The best bites? A diet rich in plant protein, viscous fiber, plant sterols and nuts, say researchers in the latest meta-study published in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases.

Plant protein comes from whole grains, soy, legumes and a variety of fruits and veggies. Viscous fiber is in oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, apples, oranges and berries. And, in this study, plant-sterols came mostly from enriched margarine—you can also get them from broccoli, Brussels sprouts, apples, avocados, tomatoes and vegetable oils. Nuts, especially walnuts, deliver heart-lovin’ omega-3s, and almonds deliver monounsaturated fats.

That plant-centered diet reduced high blood pressure and inflammation and lowered lousy LDL cholesterol by 5 to 10 percent—as much as taking 20mg of lovastatin did! Those folks lowered their 10-year risk of coronary heart disease 13 percent. Now you have a heart-protecting power far more reliable than Dwight’s!

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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