Dietary Effects on Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors: Beyond Saturated Fatty Acids and Cholesterol
Robert J. Nicolosi, PhD, FACN, Thomas A. Wilson, PhD, MPH, Carl Lawton, PhD, and Garry J. Handelman, PhD
Departments of Health and Clinical Science and Chemical Engineering, Center For Chronic Disease Control and Prevention, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Lowell, Massachusetts [Robert_Nicolosi@uml.edu]
Hypercholesterolemia represents a significant risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). While diet intervention remains the initial choice for the prevention and treatment of CVD, the nature of the dietary modification remains controversial. For example, reducing calories from total fat, without decreasing saturated fat intake results in insignificant changes in low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). Similarly, diet interventions that focus solely on lowering dietary cholesterol and saturated fat intake not only decrease LDL-C, but also high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and therefore may not improve the lipoprotein profile. This brief review summarizes dietary interventions that lower LDL-C without affecting HDL-C levels. These interventions include soy protein, soluble fiber, soy lecithin and plant sterols. This review also includes some of the reported dietary interventions, such as polyphenols, isoflavones, folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12, which reduce the risk of CVD without changes in lipoprotein cholesterol.