It's good to know that I am not an outlier.
When I wrote about my own success in lowering cholesterol through (mostly) plant-based eating, I cautioned against reading too much into it. The Internet is full of people touting their own experience as "proof" of broader trends, so it's best to look at credible peer reviewed studies to get a sense of how any particular lifestyle change might work for you.
That said, the scientific evidence keeps mounting that plant-based diets—or at least a shift in focus to more plant-based eating—can have significant improvements for our health, with lower cholesterol being one of the more dramatic areas of improvement.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recently reported on yet another study backing this up. This one, authored by Yoko Yokoyama, Susan M. Levin, and Neal D. Barnard and published in Nutrition Reviews, consisted of a meta-analysis of 30 observational studies and 19 clinical trials. The results were eye opening, and are worth noting for anyone who struggles with high cholesterol:
Consumption of vegetarian diets was associated with lower mean concentrations of total cholesterol (−29.2 and −12.5 mg/dL, P < 0.001), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (−22.9 and −12.2 mg/dL, P < 0.001), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (−3.6 and −3.4 mg/dL, P < 0.001), compared with consumption of omnivorous diets in observational studies and clinical trials, respectively.
Interestingly, the study did not show any significant improvements regarding triglycerides—which would also fit with my own experiences. (My triglycerides continued to be significantly above recommended levels, even as other results showed dramatic improvements.)
Given that I'm not the only one reporting dramatic improvements in cholesterol levels from drastically cutting back on meat and dairy, and given that scientific evidence keeps mounting that this is an effective way to cut your cholesterol, I would highly recommend anyone facing this health issue to consider exploring a plant-based, or more plant-centric diet.
Heck, like me, you may even discover you like it.