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Am J Med. 2000 May;108(7):547-53.

Randomized trial of the effects of cholesterol-lowering dietary treatment on psychological function.

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ICRF Health Behaviour Unit (JW, MT, LR, KNP), Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, United Kingdom.



Epidemiological studies have suggested that cholesterol lowering could affect psychological functioning. This study was designed to test whether cholesterol-lowering diets adversely affect mood and cognitive function.5.2 mM [198 mg/dL]) to either a low-fat diet, a Mediterranean diet, or a waiting-list control. Cholesterol levels, psychological well-being (depression, anxiety, hostility), and cognitive function were assessed at baseline, 6 weeks, and 12 weeks.


Total serum cholesterol levels fell significantly more in the intervention groups (8.2% reduction) than in the control group (P <0.001). All three groups showed a modest improvement in psychological well-being during the 12-week treatment period, but there were no differences among the groups. There were no between-group differences on three measures of cognitive function, but for a fourth measure, which involved the task with the greatest processing load, the two intervention groups did significantly worse (P <0.001) than the control group. The change in performance was correlated with the change in total serum cholesterol level (r = 0. 21, P = 0.01).


Two dietary interventions that successfully lowered serum cholesterol levels had no adverse effect on mood. There was some evidence for a relative impairment in cognitive function in the treated groups in one of four cognitive tests, but additional studies will be required to determine the relevance of this finding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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