A Plant-Based Diet for the Treatment and Prevention of High Cholesterol
Updated: Oct 12, 2019
Suffer from high cholesterol? Check out this article about how to manage this condition with a plant-based diet.
Hyperlipidemia, more commonly known as high cholesterol is an excess of cholesterol which builds up in the arteries. High cholesterol is a risk factor for developing peripheral vascular disease, coronary artery disease, and stroke.1Unfortunately, high cholesterol does not have symptoms, and many people with high cholesterol are unaware of the diagnosis until discovered on a blood test.
Many people in the United States and around the world have a diagnosis of high cholesterol. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “36.7% of U.S. adults or 78.1 million persons aged ≥21 years were on or eligible for cholesterol treatment.”
Treatment of high cholesterol includes a number of diet and lifestyle changes including exercise, eating a healthier diet such as less fatty foods, and taking cholesterol lowering medication. However, many healthcare providers fail to mention that consuming a plant-based diet (one with little to no meat, dairy, or eggs) has been shown to drastically reduce high cholesterol.
A review of multiple studies done by the American College of Cardiology shows that “individuals following plant-based diets experience significantly lower blood lipid concentrations compared to those following diets that include animal products.” This is great news for those who have been trying to lower their cholesterol or who would like to prevent high cholesterol from occurring. Although most cases of elevated cholesterol are due to lifestyle choices, some may be caused by genetics and may require medication to be controlled.
Consuming a plant-based diet has no side effects and has additional health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, lowering blood sugar levels, and reducing your risk for getting certain cancers. If you are interested in lowering your cholesterol with a plant-based diet, it is advised you speak with your healthcare professional prior to adjusting any medication you may be taking.
Ferdowsian, H. R., & Barnard, N. D. (2009). Effects of Plant-Based Diets on Plasma Lipids. The American Journal of Cardiology,104(7), 947-956. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.05.032
Mercado C, DeSimone AK, Odom E, Gillespie C, Ayala C, Loustalot F. Prevalence of cholesterol treatment eligibility and medication use among adults—United States, 2005–2012. MMWR. 2015;64(47):1305–11.