Functional Medicine

Cholesterol, Nutrition and Heart Disease

Continuing in our commentary on the book ‘Nutritional Medicine’ by Alan R Gaby, M.D we come onto the subject of ‘Cardiovascular Risk Factors: Cholesterol.’ An elevated serum cholesterol level (particularly, and elevated low density lipoprotein level [LDL-C] level) is well known to be associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. I am now going to talk about some of the nutritional factors associated with reducing serum and LDL-C cholesterol levels. A lower level prevents heart disease.

  1. Meal Frequency and meal pattern – eating more frequent meals per day including eating breakfast reduces levels, and the opposite increases them.
  2. Reducing cholesterol dietary intake reduces serum cholesterol but only by a very small amount.
  3. In patients with coronary heart disease, severe restriction of fat and cholesterol intake, reduce mean serum levels considerably.
  4. Saturated fat may have less of an effect on increasing serum levels as is commonly believed, with considerably reductions in saturated fat resulting in only a 3-4% reduction in serum levels.
  5. Consumption of trans fatty acids is reported to increase LDL-C.
  6. Rice bran oil used extensively in some Asian countries is noted to reduce serum levels.
  7. Nuts may reduce cholesterol levels by about 25% if included in your diet. Sesame seeds have a similar effect.
  8. Ingestion of Oat bran has a modest effect on reducing serum levels.
  9. Use of soy protein and soybeans reduced serum and LDL-C levels significantly.
  10. Use of beans reduces levels by 5-20%.
  11. Raw carrot consumption of 200 g/day for 3 weeks reduces serum cholesterol level by 11%.
  12. Consumption of grapefruit in patients with coronary artery disease decreases serum toatl and LDL-C levels.
  13. Yoghurt had a cholesterol lowering effect.
  14. Coffee is reported to increase serum total and LDL-C levels.