Lowering High Cholesterol with Plant Sterols

Medically reviewed in February 2021

The right combination of foods may be the key to tackling high cholesterol.

Incorporating plant sterols like margarine, almonds, and foods high in fiber (such as whole grains, bran, fruits, and veggies) and soy protein (such as soy milk, soybeans, and tofu) into your diet may result in a nice reduction of your LDL cholesterol. Measure the results by journaling your daily diet for 3 months and sharing it with your healthcare provider.

In a small study, researchers found that eating a diet high in plant sterols, soy protein, fiber, and almonds resulted in a reduction of LDL cholesterol. When the study participants were monitored at 3 months and at 1 year, researchers determined that the effectiveness of diet to lower cholesterol was similar to the effects of statin therapy, a common medication regimen used to manage high cholesterol. Keep in mind that although dietary modifications can be effective in lowering high cholesterol, you should discuss all options, including medication, with your healthcare provider to determine your best course of treatment. Do not alter your prescribed treatment plan without consulting your doctor.

An elevation in cholesterol is dangerous because it can stick to the inside of artery walls, forming plaques and restricting blood flow. If plaque breaks away from the artery wall, a blood clot forms and may block blood flow, starving tissues of oxygen and nutrients. This leads to a heart attack or stroke. Controlling LDL cholesterol is one way to reduce your risk of these life-threatening events. Make sure your diet includes healthy doses of whole grains, fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables - all are good sources of fiber and plant sterols. In addition, reach toward the goal of exercising daily for at least 30 minutes.

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