7 On Your Side:Cholesterol-Lowering Cookies, Candy - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

5/28/07

7 On Your Side:Cholesterol-Lowering Cookies, Candy

Pamela Silverstein is not just reaching for a cookie. For her, it's cholesterol-lowering therapy.

"I was excited to hear about this cookie," says Silverstein.

It's called Right Direction and she heard about it from the creator, who asked her to try the treats.

So she went to her doctor and had her blood drawn. Her cholesterol: 214.

Then she says she ate one cookie a day, half the recommended amount, and changed nothing else in her diet.

After about nine weeks: her cholesterol was down 22 points!

Silverstein says,"My cholesterol readings are under 200 now which is, in a short amount of time, a very good outcome."

The cookie's secret?  A fiber called psyllium and plant extracts called sterols.

Dr. Anne Goldberg is an endocrinologist and cholesterol expert. She says these ingredients have been shown to help block the absorption of cholesterol into the blood.

"It can lower LDL, the bad cholesterol, from five to ten percent," says Dr. Goldberg.

You've seen the plant extracts added to things like orange juice and margarine. And now they're popping up in snack foods.  Not only in these cookies, but also in the cocoa via chocolate bar.

"We have now a number of new options where you may see either snack foods with increased fiber, or things that may help reduce cholesterol," says Bob Earl with the Grocery Manufacturer's Association.

The companies each funded small clinical studies. The findings: two chocolate bars a day helped lower LDL cholesterol an average of six percent in participants. Two cookies: an average of ten percent.

Cynthia Sass is with the American Dietetic Association,"I think the studies have small numbers but definitely they have shown some benefit."

But health experts we talked to say while the products really can help--- they can also work against you.

Two chocolate bars will add seven grams of saturated fat and 200 calories.

Two cookies: five grams of saturated fat and 300 calories.

"The cookies are high calories, they are high sugar and they are high fat. So most of the time for patients who are trying to follow a low fat low cholesterol diet it really doesn't fall in their meal plan," says Registered Dietician Amy Griffith with UT Health Center at Tyler.

Griffith says there are plenty of foods available at your local grocery store that may be just as effective at lowering cholesterol.

"There are lots are foods that are high in fiber and you want the soluble type of fiber. So anything like fruits and vegetables, beans are high in fiber, oatmeal and some of the whole grain cereals, those kinds of foods will also bound with cholesterol and lower cholesterol levels," says Griffith.

It's a lifestyle change Pamela finds easy to make and says the cookies help her heart beat a little easier.

"I think they're a very smart idea," says Silverstein.

Cocoa via says you should contact your physician if you're currently taking cholesterol-lowering medications before adding plant sterols into your diet.

Also, Right Direction says the psyllium in its cookies could interfere with the absorption of certain medications so check with your doctor.

Right Direction cookies are available online at www.rightdirectioncookies.com

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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