New Cholesterol Fighters

New Cholesterol Fighters
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Eight products put to the cholesterol-lowering test.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 don’t do it; so colas are particularly bad for us.

Flax seeds are a given—definitely lower our cholesterol. But what about flaxseed oil? It doesn’t work. Flax seeds, but not flax seed oil, lower 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 eight 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

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 don’t do it; so colas are particularly bad for us.

Flax seeds are a given—definitely lower our cholesterol. But what about flaxseed oil? It doesn’t work. Flax seeds, but not flax seed oil, lower 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 eight 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.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For more on the topic, check out these videos:
Cholesterol Feeds Breast Cancer Cells
The Actual Benefit of Diet vs. Drugs
Does Cholesterol Size Matter?
Statin Cholesterol Drugs & Invasive Breast Cancer

And check out my other videos on cholesterol

For further context, also see my associated blog posts: Stool Size & Breast Cancer RiskVitamin B12: how much, how often?, and Is Caffeinated Tea Really Dehydrating?

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

35 responses to “New Cholesterol Fighters

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    1. 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.




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  1. .

    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




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  2. .

    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




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  3. . 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




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  4. 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??




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    1. Dr Caldwell Esselstyn’s recommendation to avoid nuts is based on his experience with treating patients who already have advance CVD and plaques in their arteries. Maybe the studies that Dr Gregor sites are not based on such individuals.




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  5. 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.




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  6. 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… :)




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  7. 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?

    Mahalo
    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!




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  8. You state that cheerios have a tablespoon of sugar per serving, but the nutrition label on the side of the package says 1 gm sugar per serving -which I think is only about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar.




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    1. I noticed that too. It appears to have 1 tbsp of sugar per BOX. Even the flavored Cheerios don’t have 1 tbsp per serving, nor did they at the time of this video’s publication.




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  9. I have a question about the kiwi lowering LDL. So I went and read the abstract referenced in PubMed. Unless I was reading it wrong, there was no significant difference between baseline and 8 wk values for TGs, total and LDL cholesterol, but there was a significant increase of HDL by 8 weeks which would decrease the LDL:HDL and TC:HDL ratios. Did I read that incorrectly?




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  10. Hi Dr. Greger,
    I’ve followed a vegan diet for 23 years, but it’s only been in the last 5 years that I’ve largely cut out fried foods and soda. My cholesterol is not where I want it. LDL is 106, and HDL is 42. I do moderate-brisk walking, but only 30 minutes per day. What is the single most effective thing I can do to improve my cholesterol numbers?




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    1. Todd: Dr. Greger has several videos that highlight foods that are shown to lower cholesterol. Instead of looking for a single thing to do, how about tweaking your diet to try to include as many of those things as possible? Seems to me that would give you your best chance of success.

      Also, Tom Goff did a post recently talking about a study that shows that obese poeple may have a tough time lowering cholesterol regardless of diet. And so getting into a healthy weight may be an important step. (I have no idea what your weight is. So, I don’t know if this applies to you or not.) The link in Tom’s post didn’t work for me, or I would have repeated it here. Maybe he will post it again.

      Good luck.




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    1. I have not seen any data to suggest teenagers cannot handle flaxseeds. I would suggest more than just using flax but having a healthful diet full of fiber to help reduce cholesterol. Here is a video about the nuts and bolts of cholesterol lowering. For more on cholesterol and ways to reduce LDL I suggest watching more videos! See if any of these links help.




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  11. hi;
    again it is all in the details…… in the study of the kiwifruit and HDL i have one important question. were the kiwifruit consumed with the skin on or were they peeled ?




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  12. hi;
    again it is all in the details…… in the study of the kiwifruit and HDL i have one important question. were the kiwifruit consumed with the skin on or were they peeled ?




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  13. I’m on the McDougall program and the doctors said my good cholesterol was low and my bad cholesterol was a tad high. I’m vegan, I don’t eat cholesterol. What’s going on? Are they going to make me eat fish?




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    1. GNUisance: Did they say what the actual numbers are? “High” and “Low” don’t really mean anything. How long have you been on the McDougall program? These are some answers that might help people come up with a good response for you.

      Whatever the answers to the above questions, I can’t imagine that eating fish is the answer to your medical condition. You can find lots of videos/information on this website for combating cholesterol problems. And I have some thoughts for you if you want my 2 cents.

      Here is Josephs great contribution to the topic of cholesterol:
      http://nutritionfacts.org/rdquestions/what-can-i-do-to-lower-my-cholesterol-it-seems-ive-tried-everything/




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  14. I just heard about a fermented Japanese soybean product called “natto,” which, anectdotally, lowers cholesterol. My friend claims that her cholesterol lowered by 30 points in one month with one daily serving. Any study data on this? It appears that the product is fermented in a bacteria called Bacillus natto. Do we have any data on the statin content of this product? One drawback is that the product seems to have a lot of MSG in it. If it lowers cholesterol, what is the drawback of the MSG?




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  15. A recent video recommended a 0% intake of saturated fat. Other videos say nuts are healthy, but a single serving of walnuts contains 2 grams of saturated fat. Why is that and what should we do?




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  16. A friend of mine just wrote to me that she just received results of a blood test that showed her total cholesterol at 325. As a result, her doctor put her on 10 mg of statin. She asked me what I did to lower my cholesterol (Dr. Esselstyn’s diet). She says she is a vegan, so I’m limited in what I could suggest that she change. Besides one Brazil nut a week, what other foods would you suggest she add or delete in order to get her cholesterol down from such a high level?




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    1. Lindsey Bashore: Dr. James Bennie tells a story about a patient who was vegan and seemed to have an unusually high cholesterol level. It turns out, this patient ate a whole lot of avocado each day. It’s my understanding that a high fat diet can keep one’s cholesterol levels up, even if the person is not eating animal foods. So, the key for your friend may be to eat those whole plant foods that you know that Dr. Esselstyn recommends. Is your friend really eating low fat whole plant foods or just abstaining from animal foods?

      To address your question about other foods to add or delete, check out the NutritionFacts topic page for cholesterol – especially the last paragraph: http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/cholesterol/

      Another thought is: If your friend really is eating a diet like yours, it could be that she has a genetic condition that keeps her cholesterol levels high. In that case, as long as she keeps with the Esselstyn diet, she *may* not need to worry about cholesterol. That’s a guess on my part after hearing someone I respect talk about how such a diet would prevent the cholesterol from oxidizing and thus doing damage. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds plausible to me.

      Does that help?




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      1. My friend has since divulged to me that her Thai diet,(she’s in Thailand) although it has no animal flesh in it, contains eggs and milk!! Aha!! I explained that is where much of the problem is and she has pledged to eliminate those ingredients plus all oils in cooking. Hopefully that will make a big difference in her next lipid tests. Thank you for your attention. I’ll also mention the avocado issue, in case she is eating those. Lindsey




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        1. Sounds like a good plan!

          As an aside, I love Thai food. It is so tasty and easy to get vegan in restaurants. But it’s usually drenched in oil when eaten in restaurants in America at least. I’m glad you mentioned the oil issue to your friend as well.

          I hope your friend is able to solve her problems. And because I forgot to mention it earlier, Good For You for fixing your own cholesterol problem!




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  17. Dr. Greger, Thanks for the fabulous info. Can you summarize the relative benefits of freshly ground flax seeds vs. organic filtered Flax seed oil (refrigerated and in a dark bottle)? Thank you




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  18. I just watched the video about whether or not certain things lower cholesterol. You said that the Red Yeast Rice did in fact lower cholesterol. My grandma is 84 and is in pretty good health other than her memory is getting terrible. She has been taking Red Yeast Rice supplements for years and has successfully lowered her cholesterol. I worry about her taking it because of cognitive side effects from statins and I wonder if these supplements may be exacerbating her cognitive decline? What are your thoughts on taking them in supplement form?




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