Cholesterol Lowering in a Nut Shell

Cholesterol Lowering in a Nut Shell

Though official recommendations are to first treat high cholesterol with dietary change, many physicians jump right to cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins like Lipitor that can have an array of side effects. As described in my 1-min. video Diet Versus Drugs for High Cholesterol, up to a third of patients prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs experience adverse reactions. Side effects include liver, muscle, and kidney dysfunction, skin disorders, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, dizziness, flushing, neurological disorders, and cognitive impairment.

Dietary and lifestyle changes, on the other hand, tend to carry positive side effects. That’s why they are the cornerstones of the American Heart Association guidelines. Recommendations include reduced intake of saturated fat and cholesterol with increased physical activity and intake of dietary fiber. Basically we need to eat fewer animal foods, the only source of cholesterol, and more plants, the only source of fiber. One plant food that may be particularly protective is nuts. See Nuts and Bolts of Cholesterol Lowering for a pooled analysis of studies on nut consumption, cholesterol levels, and risk of death from heart disease.

For more on reducing cholesterol, the #1 risk factor for our #1 cause of death, see:

 For preventing our other top killers, see Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

For more on nuts, see:

-Michael Greger, M.D.

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Image credit: angels aguirre / Flickr

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  • Greg Orme

    I was wondering if an historical source of fibre for man has been dirt on food. most animals eat some soil with food, this acts to help digestion with birds. For example if you don’t give budgies shell grit to eat with seeds they will often die of blockages in their digestion. grain would usually have had some dirt mixed with it along with some remaining chaff. As food became cleaner maybe this missed dirt in food led to problems with a lack of fibre like with birds. Also dirt would have some minerals to absorb, maybe bacteria or some source of B12 for vegetarians.

    • Don Forrester MD

      Dirt has no fiber unless there is plant material in it. It can as you mention be a source of Vit B12 from the bacteria in the dirt. It is important to make sure you have an adequate Vit B12 intake. Deficiencies are more common in vegans see… Read more about the history see… It is relatively easy to get adequate minerals from plants see additional videos on iodine while also avoiding excess exposure to minerals such as iron and aluminum.