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New Cholesterol Fighters

Eight products put to the cholesterol-lowering test.

September 29, 2010 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited

Becoming a vegetarian. Avoiding meat is only one part of the picture. A healthy vegetarian diet should be chock-full of foods with known benefits. Harv Womens Health Watch. 2009 Oct;17(2):4-6.

Kris-Etherton PM, Karmally W, Ramakrishnan R. Almonds lower LDL cholesterol. J Am Diet Assoc. 2009 Sep;109(9):1521-2; author reply 1522-3.

Maki KC, Beiseigel JM, Jonnalagadda SS, Gugger CK, Reeves MS, Farmer MV, Kaden VN, Rains TM. Whole-grain ready-to-eat oat cereal, as part of a dietary program for weight loss, reduces low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in adults with overweight and obesity more than a dietary program including low-fiber control foods. J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Feb;110(2):205-14.

Høstmark AT, Tomten SE. Cola intake and serum lipids in the Oslo Health Study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2009 Oct;34(5):901-6.

Pan A, Yu D, Demark-Wahnefried W, Franco OH, Lin X. Meta-analysis of the effects of flaxseed interventions on blood lipids. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Aug;90(2):288-97. Epub 2009 Jun 10.

Chang WH, Liu JF. Effects of kiwifruit consumption on serum lipid profiles and antioxidative status in hyperlipidemic subjects. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009 Dec;60(8):709-16.

Borden WB. Red yeast rice for dyslipidemia in statin-intolerant patients. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2010 Jan;12(1):11-3.

Jenkins DJ, Nguyen TH, Kendall CW, Faulkner DA, Bashyam B, Kim IJ, Ireland C, Patel D, Vidgen E, Josse AR, Sesso HD, Burton-Freeman B, Josse RG, Leiter LA, Singer W. The effect of strawberries in a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio. Metabolism. 2008 Dec;57(12):1636-44.



Avoiding meat is only one part of the picture. A healthy vegetarian diet should be chock full of foods with known benefits. Within the last 12 months, eight products were tested—some for the first time ever—to see what they would do to our LDL, our bad cholesterol. Almonds, cheerios, cola, flax seeds, flax oil, kiwi fruits, red yeast rice, and strawberries. First up almonds—packed with nutrition, but might they raise our cholesterol? Or does eating almonds not affect our cholesterol, Or does eating almonds lower our cholesterol? Almonds lower our cholesterol.
What about the hype about cheerios? Do they really lower cholesterol Yes they do, but they also have a tablespoon of sugar in them, per serving—and that’s before you add extra sugar. We should stick to oatmeal for the best of both worlds.
Obviously soda is just plain bad for us, but does it actually affect our cholesterol? Only the cola—isn’t that interesting? The other sodas didn’t do it, so colas are particularly bad for us.
Flaxseeds are a given—definitely lower our cholesterol, but what about flaxseed oil? It doesn’t work. Flaxseeds, but not flaxseed oil, lowers our our cholesterol; another reason the ground seeds are better.
Kiwis are definitely a first. No one had ever tested their ability to affect our cholesterol. Until now. Two kiwis a day for 8 weeks significantly improved cholesterol levels. What a yummy way to help our hearts.
Red yeast rice. It’s actually red mold rice. Moldy rice, a fermented food, prized in Chinese medicine, which can be taken as a supplement. Does it work? Yes it does, because the red mold actually produces lovastatin, sold for billions of dollars as mevacor. Just like there’s a mold that makes penicillin, there’s a mold that makes a cholesterol medication. The problem is by eating the rice you could have all the side-effects, without the dose standardization.
And finally, speaking of yummy ways to lower our cholesterol, what about strawberries? I wish! Strawberries have all sorts of amazing properties, as I’ve documented over the years, but unfortunately lowering our cholesterol is not one of them.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on cholesterol. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog posts for more context: For some context, please check out my associated blog post: Vitamin B12: how much, how often?Is Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?Stool Size and Breast Cancer Risk.

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on cholesterol. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Gio

    Why won’t you attempt to debunk this study? Because it goes against you think may be true?

    • MS

      I’d be interested in an analysis of this as well. This article discusses the issue of cholesterol levels – even saying that moderate levels and elevated cholesterols MAY prove not only to be harmless, but in some cases actually beneficial.

  • vernondemille


    You have to make sure that the vitamins you have chosen are of reliable.Because you will discover so many options available, it’s excellent to discuss with others.Contact specialists, like your druggist and healthcare professional.Compare brandnames and rates because this will aid you to make the choice that is right for you

  • riotemoresporfi


    Firstly you could attempt “La Champa? im? a”, the true Catalan first.You might get a sip there but it’s actually not exactly a new bar or maybe a pub.You possibly can eat in that respect there but it truly is like hardly any restaurant you’ve lots of people in prior to.There’s in no way any music from the place but it really has a good atmosphere you simply will not forget right away.Located from the port area all around “La Barceloneta” neighborhood station it’s frequently packed using people

  • riotemoresporfi

    . Have you ever felt that urge to know more, to know the answers to the universe? I am sure you all have. Looking up into the abyss made me feel something that I do not feel everyday of my life. It is a different feeling, a feeling of wonder, and joy. It is also a feeling of overwhelming excitement to know that we are just a tiny speck in a universe which is made up of billions of stars.

    Most folks know of the Big Dipper. I have known that constellation since I was a little kid and I still find it interesting to look at it, even to this day

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Also be sure to check out my associated blog post Vitamin B12: how much, how often?!

  • Qpbd clean arteries

    I am following the PBD to reverse heart disease written by Caldwell Edelston . my question is if nuts are so good for you what is the science for not consuming them in trying to reverse the disease you have??

  • jeffrb

    I would like to know when the conclusion that red yeast rice was a natural statin was made for this article. From what I understand it is useless now as the drug company sued to have the natural statin removed,because they have a patent on it. I am at the point where I do not believe anyone anymore when it comes to food and medicine. It’s criminal. In the future you should cite the source as well as the date of the citation being used. You could be out of date.

    • Thea

      jeffrb: Did you see the “Sources Cited” section above? Perhaps that would answer your question???

  • Annette

    My husbands Dr ask him to take 1000 mg 2x a day of flax seed oil. Since flax oil does not do a thing, how much ground flax would equal 2000 mg. I put 2 tbsp in his oatmeal the days he eats oatmeal. My husband is not vegan, wish he would go vegan but he has tried but does not like not having his meat. Love you videos… :)

  • birdofparadise

    Aloha Dr. Gregor,
    I was unsure where to pose this question so I’ll do it here. My husband
    suffered a stroke this past December due to a “solidly blocked left
    carotid artery”. His doctor as well as other info I’ve looked up
    online & in books suggests he will need to live with a blocked carotid as
    there is no way to remove the plaque since they will not perform surgery (too risky) nor use the super powered drug to remove blockage (I was told they only use this when there is still some blood flow immediately following a stroke). He is primarily vegan though he does eat lowfat yogurt, sometimes ghee. He was a heavy smoker and has weaned himself down to 3 cigarettes a day & is trying to eliminate them completely. He refused statin drugs such as Lipitor which did not go over well with the medical establishment. He is taking red yeast rice and aspirin daily. Is it possible to clear the blockage in a fully-blocked carotid? If so, how?

    for your help.

    Andrea from
    Honolulu (BTW–we look forward to hearing your lecture at the Veg.
    Society of Hawaii on Tuesday (June 10). Thanks for all your good work!