Delicious modified snacks lower cholesterol: a study


January 28, 2022 – What if you can lower your cholesterol by eating foods you love?

AND new study shows that when people were asked to eat “hedonically acceptable” snacks that contained ingredients known to lower cholesterol, almost everyone did so.

In contrast, only about half of people were asked to substantially change their diet to lower cholesterol following a diet in a previous study.

No type of diet lowers “bad” cholesterol as much as statins do, but special ingredients in tasty snacks “can quickly and significantly lower LDL cholesterol in adult patients who can’t or don’t want to take statins,” according to the study.

Posted in TheNutrition Journal, the study was conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic, the University of Manitoba and the Richardson Center for Functional Food and Nutrition in Canada.

The researchers recruited 59 people to participate in the study, although five of them dropped out. Thus, 18 men and 36 women, with an average age of 49, remained in the treatment and control groups.

There were two treatment periods of 4 weeks each, separated by a “rinsing” period of the same length. During the treatment phases, participants were told to eat a variety of ready-made snacks twice a day in exchange for something they had already eaten. Other behavioral changes were discouraged.

People in both groups were able to choose snacks from six products that were identically packaged and coded by Step One Foods of Minneapolis, which participated in the study. These foods included oatmeal, pancakes, cranberry bars, chocolates, smoothies, and granola offerings.

The treatment team received modified versions of these snacks that included ingredients that have been shown to improve heart health. Control products were similar items from stores and supermarkets. For example, standard store-bought granola was a control for the granola being studied, with a portion size adjusted to have the same number of calories.

Lower cholesterol, higher compliance

LDL cholesterol was reduced by an average of about 8.8% in those taking modified snacks, and some participants had reductions of 20% or more. Total cholesterol was reduced by an average of 5.1% with treated food, compared with control snacks. But concentrations of HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, serum glucose, insulin, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein did not differ significantly between control groups.

A vegan diet, which also brings high concentrations of fiber and herbs, has been shown to help reduce LDL cholesterol by 17% in combination with a nationally approved cholesterol education program. In addition, “because so much of the diet has to be controlled, the user was bad,” according to a new study.

In particular, the rate of people adhering to diet trials was less than 50%, says co-author of the bite study Stephen L. Kopecky, MD, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic. In contrast, human compliance in the new study was 95% with treatment food and 96.5% with control food.

Statins have a much greater effect than any diet on lowering cholesterol. For example, in the snack treatment group, LDL cholesterol dropped by about a third of the reduction which can be achieved by taking statins.

Kopecky believes that people who consume these snacks regularly could further lower their LDL cholesterol. But the child sees this type as a statin supplement, not a replacement.

The greatest immediate value of this approach, he says, would be to help people who are unwilling or unable to take statins. It is estimated that this includes 15% -20% of patients whose cholesterol is high enough to deserve a prescription for statins. WITH close to 40% of Americans at risk of heart disease due to high cholesterol, it is a lot of people.

In the long run, Kopecky hopes the food industry will deliver more cholesterol-lowering foods instead of just claiming to do so. But food companies are following what the market wants, he says. Americans are unlikely to eat more healthy foods than they do now; in fact, 57% of their calories come from ultra-processed foods like frozen dinner and chips. So perhaps changing the content, but not the taste, of some of these foods would have a positive effect, he suggests.

“If the food industry follows this lead and people start eating this food, and you could lower your cholesterol by 10% across the country, it would have major health consequences,” he said.


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