The health benefits of vegetarian diets

Each student will be required to produce a one-page summary (critical review) of research papers on nutrition.

The paper considers the health benefits of vegetarian diets relative to drugs for lowering CVD risk factors.

You will be required to produce a one-page summary (a 1-A4 page; font 12 critical review) of research paper on nutrition topics.

The aim of Assignment 1 is to critically review a research paper.

The critical review requires students to read and understand a research paper. This may take several readings to get a good understanding of the contents. Students should read Abstract, Introduction and Tables first then the Methods and Results and finally the Discussion. In writing a one A4 page review (font 12), students need to present the information in lay terms, as though the reader of the review (the boss of a food company for example) had not read the articleand could not understand scientific terms thus a summary of the key features of the study with sufficient introduction to explain why it was undertaken, along with the important results and a brief discussion of these under suitable headings (as many as you think are required).

To do this, imagine you are working for a company (consider what sort of company this information would be valuable to) and you are employed to critically review this information for them and finish by saying what is relevant to them.

Note: Do not assume a paper is always representative of high quality research, some studies can be quite poor and you should learn to detect this and indicate this in your critical review.

Cholesterol-Lowering Foods and Statin

Direct Comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants.

Jenkins, D.J.A et al., Am J Clin Nutr 2005; 81: 380-387.

The aim

            The study aimed at comparing the cholesterol-lowering ability of statin and a dietary portfolio in a similar set of subjects.

Why necessary (introduction)

            The study was founded on the fact that hypercholesterolemia is presently being treated using novel dietary approaches that combine cholesterol-lowering foods. However, Jenkins (2005) notes that these approaches and statin have been given a direct comparison in similar subjects. Furthermore, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors are associated with serum cholesterol reduction and increasingly recommendable for LDL cholesterol reductions.

How the study was done

            Thirty four subjects who had hyperlipidemia were subjected to a total of three 1-mo treatments randomly as outpatients (Jenkins, 2005). The treatment comprised of an extremely low saturated-fat was used as the control diet, statin diet, high- plant sterols diet, eggplant, okra, viscous fibers (psyllium, barley, and oats), and soy-protein foods. 0, 2, and 4 weeks was the interval at which the fasting blood samples were collected.


            It was found out that the concentrations of LDL-cholesterol reduced by 1.3%, 1.9%, and 1.9% after four weeks of the portfolio, statin, and control diets respectively. Irrespective of the fact that there was a significant absolute variation between the portfolio and statin treatments (p=.013) at the fourth week, 26% of the participants (9) had the lowest concentrations of LDL-cholesterol with portfolio diet. There was no significant difference (p= .288) in the ability of portfolio and statin diets (n=24 and n=27 respectively) in reducing LDL cholesterol to less than 3.4-mmol/L cutoff (Jenkins, 2005).


            Dietary combinations and 1st generation statins have a relatively similar ability as far as fulfilling the present lipid principles in primary prevention are concerned. Hence, dietary combinations are vital in bridging the treatment gap between novel statins and present therapeutic diets.


            Dietary combinations should be used increasingly in healthcare setting to treat hyperlipidemia.


Jenkins, D. J. A. et al. (2005). Direct Comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering    foods with a statin in hypercholesterolemic participants. Am J Clin Nutr, 81: 380-387.

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