Last week, the Food and Drug Administration announced newly-mandated safety labeling for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs such as Lipitor, Mevacor, Crestor, Zocor, and Vytorin. The FDA issued new side-effect warnings regarding the increased risk of confusion, memory loss, and new-onset diabetes associated with taking this class of drugs.
In their press release, to reassure consumers, the FDA stressed the importance of lowering cholesterol: “We want health care professionals and patients to have the most current information on the risks of statins, but also to assure them that these medications continue to provide an important health benefit of lowering cholesterol.” They fail to mention one intervention that can lower cholesterol as much as statins and offers beneficial side-effects including lower dementia and diabetes risk: a plant-based diet.
The FDA also included a new warning about muscle damage. Even people who don’t experience pain or weakness on statin drugs may be suffering muscle injury, the subject of my NutritionFacts.org video pick today, featured above.
Lowering one’s cholesterol through diet involves more than just avoiding the bad (dietary cholesterol, saturated and trans fats). It also means piling on the good, by choosing plant foods packed with soluble fiber (such as oatmeal) and phytosterols (such as nuts). My 3-minute video New Cholesterol Fighters details eight products put to the cholesterol-lowering challenge. Red yeast rice is not recommended—more on that in my video Power Plants.
According to the editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Cardiology (as detailed in my one-minute video Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Purely a Question of Diet), to achieve the cholesterol level necessary to prevent heart attacks, most of us must either take cholesterol-lowering drugs for the rest of our lives, or embrace a plant-based diet.
It’s our choice.
Michael Greger, M.D.
Image credit: The.Comedian / Flickr