Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are the main causes of death in the Western world. Among the risk factors that are modifiable by diet, for reducing cardiovascular disease risks, the total plasma concentrations of cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-C, and HDL-C are the most important. Dietary measures can balance these components of the lipid profile thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The main food components that affect the lipid profile and can be modified by diet are the saturated and trans fats, unsaturated fats, cholesterol, phytosterols, plant protein, and soluble fiber. A wealth of evidence suggests that saturated and trans fats and cholesterol in the diet raise the total plasma cholesterol and LDL-C. Trans fats also reduce HDL-C, an important lipoprotein for mediating the reverse cholesterol transport. On the other hand, phytosterols, plant proteins, isoflavones, and soluble fiber are protective diet factors against cardiovascular diseases by modulating plasma lipoprotein levels. These food components at certain concentrations are able to reduce the total cholesterol, TG, and LDL-C and raise the plasma levels of HDL-C. Therefore, diet is an important tool for the prevention and control of cardiovascular diseases, and should be taken into account as a whole, i.e., not only the food components that modulate plasma concentrations of lipoproteins, but also the diet content of macro nutrients and micronutrients should be considered.
cholesterol; lipoproteins; vegetable protein; fiber; fat; phytosterols