This is a very confused study with all sorts of potential effects involved. And there was NO evidence of impact on heart disease
Eating more nuts and oats – rather than simply avoiding fatty foods – could boost efforts to reduce cholesterol, say scientists. They found a diet rich in foods known to lower cholesterol levels was more effective than cutting out saturated fats alone.
The diet that worked best in the study also included soy products such as milk, tofu and meat substitutes, while eating more peas, beans and lentils was encouraged.
Canadian researchers discovered that a six-month change to the diet could result in a ‘meaningful’ 13 per cent reduction in blood levels of LDL cholesterol, often known as ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Following the diet for longer would give a predicted reduction of almost 11 per cent in heart disease risk over a ten-year period.
In the study, 345 patients, all of whom suffered from high cholesterol, were split into three groups, one of which was merely recommended to adopt a low-fat diet that included fruit and vegetables.
The other two were advised on a dietary ‘portfolio’ consisting of specific foods known to lower LDL cholesterol such as nuts, oats, soy products and lentils.
One group was counselled during two clinic visits while the other underwent an ‘intensive’ course of seven visits.
After six months the low-fat group had experienced a drop in LDL cholesterol levels of 3 per cent.
However, switching to a diet that actively lowered LDL cholesterol led to a reduction of over 13 per cent: 13.1 per cent in the group that had two visits and 13.8 per cent for the group that had seven visits.
The researchers, led by Dr David Jenkins, from the University of Toronto, reported their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The scientists pointed out that the study participants were already on modified diets aimed at improving their cholesterol readings. Larger reductions in LDL cholesterol might be seen in people with diets ‘more reflective of the general population’, they said.
Victoria Taylor, senior heart health dietician at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘This study is encouraging. ‘However, people need to be aware that following this type of plan in the long term takes commitment. Eating a few nuts or having the odd portion of soya beans won’t make up for an otherwise poor diet.
‘All the people in this trial were already eating a low-saturated fat diet, and this remains our first and foremost advice to people who want or need to reduce their cholesterol.’
Girls at risk of talking too much, scientists find
Girls who talk to their friends at length about their problems could be making them worse, psychologists have warned.
The scientists conducted a series of studies and found that girls hoped to feel more cared for, understood and less alone by talking things through. However, they said it could actually lead to depression and stress. They advised parents to try to persuade their children that there were other tactics to cope with issues than merely talking.
Four different studies were conducted including surveys and observations of nearly 2,000 children and teenagers.
Amanda Rose, associate professor of psychological sciences in the University of Missouri College of Arts and Science, who led the research, said: “Many girls are at risk for excessive problem talk, which is linked with depression and anxiety, so girls should know that talking about problems isn't the only way to cope.”
The research also confirmed the widely held view that boys think that discussing their problems is a waste of time.
Prof Rose added: “For years, popular psychologists have insisted that boys and men would like to talk about their problems but are held back by fears of embarrassment or appearing weak. “However, when we asked young people how talking about their problems would make them feel, boys didn't express angst or distress about discussing problems any more than girls. “Instead, boys’ responses suggest that they just don't see talking about problems to be a particularly useful activity.”
Prof Rose said the study could have help adult romantic relationships and suggest that the why women often insist on talking about problems while men are not interested is that women think it will help, while men have other tactics for dealing with the issues.
She added: “Men may be more likely to think talking about problems will make the problems feel bigger, and engaging in different activities will take their minds off of the problem. “Men may just not be coming from the same place as their partners.”