A dietary portfolio approach to cholesterol reduction: combined effects of plant sterols, vegetable proteins, and viscous fibers in hypercholesterolemia

Metabolism. 2002 Dec;51(12):1596-604. doi: 10.1053/meta.2002.35578.


Plant sterols, soy proteins, and viscous fibers are advised for cholesterol reduction but their combined effect has never been tested. We therefore assessed their combined effect on blood lipids in hyperlipidemic subjects who were already consuming a low-saturated fat, low-cholesterol diet before starting the study. The test (combination) diet was 1 month in duration and was very low in saturated fat and high in plant sterols (1 g/1,000 kcal), soy protein (23 g/1,000 kcal), and viscous fibers (9 g/1,000 kcal) obtained from foods available in supermarkets and health food stores. One subject also completed 2 further diet periods: a low-fat control diet and a control diet plus 20 mg/d lovastatin. Fasting blood lipids, blood pressure, and body weight were measured prior to and at weekly intervals during the study. The combination diet was rated as acceptable and very filling. The diet reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol by 29.0% +/- 2.7% (P <.001) and the ratio of LDL-cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein (HDL)-cholesterol by 26.5% +/- 3.4% (P <.001). Near maximal reductions were seen by week 2. In the subject who took Mevacor and control diets each for 4 weeks, the reduction in LDL:HDL-cholesterol on Mevacor was similar to the combination diet. We conclude that acceptable diets of foods from supermarkets and health food stores that contain recognized cholesterol-lowering dietary components in combination (a dietary portfolio) may be as effective as the starting dose of older first-line drugs in managing hypercholesterolemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Fiber / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypercholesterolemia / blood*
  • Hypercholesterolemia / diet therapy*
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phytosterols / administration & dosage*
  • Phytosterols / therapeutic use
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary / therapeutic use
  • Viscosity


  • Dietary Fiber
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Phytosterols
  • Plant Proteins, Dietary
  • oxidized low density lipoprotein
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Cholesterol