Low Saturated Fat Diet with Soy Foods and Sterols As Good as Same Diet with Statin Drug

February 15, 2005

34 patients with high cholesterol were placed on three different 1-month treatments for cholesterol in random order. They ate a very low saturated fat diet, or the same diet with a statin drug (lovastatin 20mg a day), or the same diet with the addition of the following - soy foods, almonds, fiber (oats, barley, Psyllium), the vegetables okra and eggplant, and high concentrations of plant sterols. Fasting blood samples were taken right before the start of the diet, at two weeks, and at four weeks.

Results: On the diet alone the LDL-cholesterol dropped 8.5%, on the diet plus statin drug it dropped 33.3%, and on the diet plus soy-sterol-fiber it dropped 29.6% on average. However 26% of the patients achieved their lowest LDL on the soy-sterol-fiber plus diet and not on the statin plus diet. The diet with soy and sterols wasn't significantly different from statins in its ability to lower LDL-cholesterol. This is the first study to compare diet with statin vs. diet with soy-sterols-fiber nose to nose. The study is published in the February 2005 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Western Diet has 7 Serious Flaws

Approximately 10,000 years ago with the introduction of agriculture and animal husbandry in there was the beginnings of a profound change in our diet and lifestyle that is drastic to our Industrialized society. These changes have occurred so recently on an evolutionary time scale that we have not genetically adapted to the changes. In conjunction with the discordance between our genetically determined biology and the recently emerged nutritional, cultural, and activity patterns of contemporary Western populations, many of the "diseases of civilization" have emerged. The changes have occurred in 7 crucial nutritional characteristics in our ancestral (Neolithic) diets:

  1. Too high a glycemic load (sugar load)
  2. A drastic change in fatty acid composition (introduction of trans-fats and excess saturated fats, with a drop in omega-3 fats)
  3. A change in macronutrient composition
  4. Decreased micronutrient density
  5. A change of the Acid-Base balance (all of the protein and fats with bleached sugar contributes to an overly acidifying diet)
  6. Higher intake of salt to a lower intake of plants leads to a change in the sodium-potassium ratio
  7. Lowered fiber content
The collision with our too slow to evolve genome with the nutritional qualities of recently introduced foods may underlie many of our chronic diseases. The commentary is published in the February 2005 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Fish Oils Can Save the Life of Arrhythmia Patients

There is a large body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish can prevent fatal heart disease. In this study 84 patients with premature ventricular complexes (PVCs), a common form of arrhythmia that may potentially trigger other arrhythmias that are more life threatening were given either 1.5 grams a day of omega-3 fatty acids from fish or placebo. The patients had at least 1440 PVCs per day as measured on a Holter monitor. Two additional Holter recordings were made at the start of the study and two more after 14 weeks into the study. The number of PVCs dropped 867 more per 24 hours in the fish oil vs. the placebo group. However, the number of heartbeats per 24 hours dropped significantly in the fish oil group. There were 2.1 fewer beats per minute on average in the fish oil group vs. placebo. This size drop in the number of heartbeats (3024 on average per day) predicts a lower risk of sudden death. The study is published in the February 2005 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.