2325 -- 9/1/03 


Gabe Mirkin, M.D.

A study in JAMA shows that a diet that includes soy, eggplant, 
almonds and other plants lowers blood levels of the bad LDL 
cholesterol as much as statin drugs do. 

46 men and women with high blood cholesterol levels were in the 
study. 16 ate the vegetarian diet for one month, 16 consumed a 
standard low-fat diet, and 14 ate the low-fat diet and took 20 
milligrams of Mevacor every day for a month. The vegetarian group 
showed an average drop of 28.6 percent in their bad LDL cholesterol, 
that increases risk for heart disease. 

Adding the drug Mevacor to a vegetarian diet did not lower 
cholesterol any more than the vegetarian diet's 30 percent 
reduction. The low fat diet, which doctors have recommended for more 
than 45 years, lowered cholesterol by only eight percent. This tells 
you that the most important way to prevent heart attacks by lowering 
cholesterol is to eat lots of plants. Adding a statin drug to the 
vegetarian diet did not lower cholesterol signficantly further.

Two important indicators of heart attack risk are blood levels of 
the bad LDL cholesterol and C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a blood 
marker of inflammation that appears to be even better as a measure 
of risk for a heart attack than blood cholesterol level. The 
high-vegetable diet lowered both of these markers as well as the 
popular statin drug, and more than a low-fat diet. The fiber-rich 
diet included eggplant, okra, soy protein, almonds, margarine 
containing plant sterols, barley and psyllium, all foods that alone 
have been shown to have potentially beneficial effects on 

Journal of the American Medical Association, 290:502-510, July 23, 
2003. Effects of a Dietary Portfolio of Cholesterol-Lowering Foods 
vs Lovastatin on Serum Lipids and C-Reactive Protein. 
David J. A. Jenkins, MD; Cyril W. C. Kendall, PhD; 
Augustine Marchie, BSc; Dorothea A. Faulkner, PhD; Julia M. W. Wong, 
RD; Russell de Souza, RD; Azadeh Emam, BSc; Tina L. Parker, RD; 
Edward Vidgen, BSc; Karen G. Lapsley, DSc; Elke A. Trautwein, PhD; 
Robert G. Josse, MB, BS; Lawrence A. Leiter, MD; 
Philip W. Connelly, PhD.