A newly released study in The Journal of Nutrition reported significant reductions in LDL cholesterol in response to consumption of snack foods formulated with cholesterol-lowering food ingredients.

Many adults are unable or unwilling to take prescribed medication to lower blood lipid levels. Therefore, researcher Stephen Kopecky (Mayo Clinic) and colleagues conducted a double-blind randomized crossover clinical trial to determine if highly palatable tasting snacks formulated with cholesterol-lowering food ingredients could provide a therapeutic alternative. Outcome variables included changes in total cholesterol, triglycerides, high density lipoproteins, low density lipoproteins, fasting glucose, insulin, inflammatory biomarkers, and genetic variants.

To evaluate the therapeutic effect of snacks formulated with blood lipid lowering ingredients including fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols, and antioxidants, a 2-phase study that included 54 adults was conducted. Study participants were instructed to consume ready-to-eat snacks twice daily as a substitute for something they were consuming already. For comparison purposes, calorie-matched food products from the marketplace were provided as a control. Blood samples were measured at baseline and at the end of each 4-week study phase (formulated snacks vs. marketplace snacks).

Blood LDL cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations decreased by 10.8 mg/dL and 10.4 mg/dL, respectively, in the formulated snack treatment compared with control values. A similar reduction in triglycerides was also observed in response to treatment foods compared with control foods. Genetic variants were not significantly related to outcomes.

Given that some participants experienced 20% or greater LDL cholesterol reductions, the magnitude of this dietary approach is promising. The clinical outcomes observed in this study expand the breadth of options available for treating elevated blood lipid values, especially among those unwilling or unable to take lipid-lowering medication.


Stephen L Kopecky, Soumya Alias, Elizabeth Klodas, Peter J H Jones, Reduction in Serum LDL Cholesterol Using a Nutrient Compendium in Hyperlipidemic Adults Unable or Unwilling to Use Statin Therapy: A Double-Blind Randomized Crossover Clinical Trial, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 152, Issue 2, February 2022, Pages 458–465, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/nxab375.

Images via canva.com.