It is not uncommon nowadays to find people with high level of cholesterol, even among the young ones. Person having high cholesterol, especially the bad cholesterol or in short LDL , has a greater chance of getting stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Doctors will usually ask you to watch your diet if they find your bad cholesterol level reach a certain high level. Unfortunately, it seems that diet alone usually would not help reduce the cholesterol level for most people. Therefore, as the last resort, doctors would have no choice but to put you on medication to cut down your bad cholesterol.
A new study by the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor reported during March 2008 that with the support from dietitian, some people might be able to bring down their bad cholesterol levels without drugs.
The researchers followed 51 registered dietitians who implemented the 1998 Medical Nutrition Therapy Hyperlipidemia Protocol with their patients. You may ask, “What is this protocol?”
The protocol recommends people to:
- eat more fruits and vegetables,
- eat fish twice weekly,
- take more good fats such as olive oil,
- consume less saturated and trans fat,
- exercise more.
Meanwhile, the patients were supposed to meet with a dietitian for an initial one-hour visit, followed by at least 2 or 3 half-hour appointments. More visits may be recommended by the primary care doctor, if necessary. Dietitians have to check the patients’ blood work at the outset of the study and 3 months later.
The study took in 377 patients who met the criteria. Follow-up data was available for 74.3 percent, while 42.9 percent participated in 3 to 4 visits with the dietitian as recommended.
On average, patients working with dietitians cut their fat consumption to less than 30 percent of total calories. Furthermore, they did lose weight and exercise more.
Among the 175 patients whose initial triglyceride levels were below 400 mg/ dL , 44.6 percent of them reported a 15 percent drop in their LDL or reached their goal for reducing LDL .
While the protocol only recommended 3 to 4 weeks between appointments, the actual intervals were in fact longer, ranging from an average of 8 weeks between the first and second appointments to nearly 13 weeks between the third and fourth.
Many patients did not make follow-up appointments, or keep scheduled appointments because of the lack of insurance reimbursement or their inability to pay.
The researchers did have difficulty in carrying out the study. Not many registered dietitians wanted to participate because they could not obtain necessary lab tests or lacked time and administrative support.