The short answer: No, absolutely not.
You’ll find no lack of conversations, however, that tell you to consume more oatmeal, nuts, garlic or soy to reduce total and LDL cholesterol, perhaps thereby avoiding statin drugs. Or add more fiber to your diet or take red yeast rice.
These foods and supplements do indeed reduce total and LDL cholesterol . . . but who cares? Don’t waste your time and energy on this useless exercise, especially efforts to reduce the absurd, outdated, imprecise calculated LDL cholesterol.
But doesn’t reducing LDL cholesterol, the “bad,” in particular reduce risk for cardiovascular events? It does to a minor degree, not to the degree doctors and Big Pharma tell you, wildly exaggerated benefits that are misleading statistical manipulations. But that is not the right question to ask.
A better question to ask: How can you reduce or eliminate risk for cardiovascular events? Answer: By quantifying, then correcting the factors that cause heart disease such as small LDL particles, excessive very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particles, postprandial (after-meal) lipoproteins, inflammatory factors, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and the accompanying inflammation, insulin resistance, endogenous glycation, vitamin D deficiency, omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, iodine deficiency, and others. All of these factors can be quantified, then corrected—NONE require prescription drugs to do so. If, for example, a person’s LDL cholesterol (calculated–yes, LDL cholesterol is not measured, but calculated) was 133 mg/d (the average value for most people not on statins) and then we were to run a NMR lipoprotein analysis, the LDL particle number could be something like 1900 nmol/L. A NMR LDL particle number of 1900 mol/L is the equivalent of a LDL cholesterol of 190 mg/dl—much higher than the calculated value. This sort of discrepancy between the calculated LDL cholesterol and the LDL particle number is exceptionally common, the rule rather than the exception. Of that 1900 mol/L of total LDL particles, perhaps 1400 mol/L are the abnormal small particles that are oxidation-prone, more likely to adhere to the artery wall, are much more inflammation-provoking, and last 5-7 days in the bloodstream, rather than the 24 hours of large LDL particles. A calculated LDL cholesterol of 133 mg/dl suggests little risk for heart disease, while the NMR panel suggest substantial risk for heart disease. And that’s not even factoring in all the other factors that lead to heart disease such as insulin resistance and postprandial abnormalities.
Take a statin drug or eat foods that reduce cholesterol and you can reduce LDL particle number to, say, 1500 mol/L, reduce small LDL particle number to 1000 mol/L—small LDL particles are persistent and still comprise a similar proportion of total LDL particle number.
Eliminate wheat/grains and limit net carbs; restore vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and iodine; take efforts to cultivate healthy bowel flora—i.e., all the strategies we follow in the Wheat Belly and Undoctored lifestyles—and LDL particle number drops to something like 1200 nmol/L, small LDL drops to zero or other low value. While foods that reduce cholesterol and statins do little else to improve the other factors that lead to heart disease, the strategies we use address ALL of them: reduces VLDL particles, reduces the magnitude of postprandial lipoproteins, reduce inflammation, reverses insulin resistance, reduces endogenous glycation, corrects vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, etc.
In other words, consuming cholesterol reducing foods or statins do indeed reduce total and LDL cholesterol, but they do very little to address the constellation of phenomena that more powerfully drive heart disease risk. Follow the collection of strategies we follow in the Wheat Belly and Undoctored lifestyles and dramatic transformation of the entire landscape of factors that lead to heart disease are transformed. So eat more oats to reduce cholesterol? I hope you now appreciate how lame that is.