The continued importance of diet in managing cholesterol

There is a general perception that it is not worth the effort to make changes in diet in order to control hypercholesterolemia. Any changes that occur due to an improved diet are minor compared to what can be accomplished by taking cholesterol-lowering drugs.

So, just take the pill(s)!

But that?s not true, and a study from several years ago illustrates the point.

Among other things, the Lipid Treatment Assessment Project (L-TAP) assessed the advice given by doctors to lower cholesterol with diet, and the extent to which patients followed the diet. It turns out that both the advice and adhering to the diet were predictors of success in reaching LDL (bad) cholesterol treatment goals. Compliance with diet was especially important in patients who had the greatest risk for heart disease.

A new set of expert recommendations was recently published by the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. The lifestyle recommendations from this report have been summarized here. As expected, these guidelines set the goal for LDL cholesterol still lower.

As potent as statins and other cholesterol-lowering drugs are, a cholesterol-lowering diet remains a cornerstone of lipid-lowering therapy. And the importance of diet does not diminish when drug therapy begins.

9/18/06 18:33 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.