A recent paper authored by Riccardi et al and published in the Current Cardiology Reports (July 2016 18:66) reviews the role of lifestyle modifications to control high blood LDL-cholesterol.
The article summarises the evidence of implementing lifestyle modifications such as physical activity and diet – including the role of functional foods with added plant sterols and stanols – in reducing blood LDL-cholesterol, a major risk factor for the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD) which is a significant public health threat.
The article highlights association between the consumption of foods with added plant sterols/stanols with a significant reduction in LDL-cholesterol. Therefore, plant sterols and stanols have a significant role to play in managing LDL-cholesterol levels in people whose absolute risk for developing CVD does not qualify for pharmacotherapy.
Conversely, for people with high risk for developing CVD and in need of pharmacotherapy, the research cited in the article finds that introducing plant sterols and stanols in the daily diet provides an additional beneficial effect in reducing their LDL-cholesterol levels.
Additionally, the article demonstrates that a switch to a heathy diet low in saturated fat and the addition of dietary fibre and foods with added plant sterols and stanols can lead to a reduction in LDL-cholesterol levels of 30-35% which is a substantial effect.