The role for lifestyle modifications to correct dyslipidemia(s) is reviewed. Dietary composition is crucial. Replacing saturated fat with MUFA or n-6 PUFA lowers plasma low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and ameliorates the LDL/HDL ratio. Replacing saturated fat with carbohydrates has diverging effects due to the heterogeneity of carbohydrate foods. Diets rich in refined carbohydrates increase fasting and postprandial triglycerides, whereas the consumption of fiber-rich, low GI foods lowers LDL cholesterol with no detrimental effects on triglycerides. The role of polyphenols is debated: available evidence suggests a lowering effect of polyphenol-rich foods on postprandial triglycerides. As for functional foods, health claims on a cholesterol lowering effect of psyllium, beta-glucans and phytosterols are accepted by regulatory agencies. The importance of alcohol intake, weight reduction, and physical activity is discussed. In conclusion, there is evidence that lifestyle affects plasma lipid. A multifactorial approach including multiple changes with additive effects is the best option. This may also ensure feasibility and durability. The traditional Mediterranean way of life can represent a useful model.
Keywords: Cardiovascular diseases prevention; Dietary carbohydrates; Dietary fat; Dyslipidemias; LDL cholesterol; Lifestyle modifications.