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Dr. Elizabeth Klodas, founder of Step One Foods, is a practicing cardiologist who treats high cholesterol through food, not just drugs. We spoke with Dr. Klodas to learn about her background and what drove her to create a simple, clinically proven, food-based solution for people worried about undertaking major lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol or experiencing side effects from using cholesterol-lowering drugs.
What’s your background? Why did you decide to start Step One Foods?
I’m a practicing cardiologist. I trained at University of Toronto, Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins – some of the finest medical institutions on the planet. But I started Step One Foods because the way I was taught to treat conditions like high cholesterol ultimately did not make sense to me. Doctors are instructed to jump straight to prescribing medications (statins for lowering cholesterol for example) without ever addressing WHY the cholesterol is high in the first place
I began to see this as a problem when no matter how many medications I prescribed – and no matter how much I improved their “numbers” – none of my patients felt or looked healthier. Some of my patients even told me that all those cholesterol lowering drugs were making them feel worse. I eventually realized that prescribing statins was only masking the downstream effects of dietary patterns that encouraged high cholesterol in the first place – while doing nothing to change the patient’s food choices. But if you don’t address the root cause of a health condition, you have no chance of curing it! Ultimately, what became crystal clear to me is that if a condition is caused in part or in whole by food, step one should be to change the food!
But changing food has to be easy. Otherwise changing diet can’t compete with the convenience of using drugs. That’s why I launched Step One Foods as a convenient way for anyone and everyone to lower their cholesterol levels – whether or not they already use medication. Simply replace two meal items or snacks per day with two doses of Step One Foods to see significantly lower cholesterol within 30 days. That’s it. It’s that easy.
I often say that, with Step One Foods, I’m trying to put myself out of work. I want to give people a non-pharmaceutical option to address their high cholesterol so they never even need to see me in my office.
How are Step One Foods products clinically proven?
My team and I have put Step One Foods through the same level of scientific scrutiny as is typically reserved for pharmaceuticals. Mayo Clinic and the University of Manitoba jointly tested Step One Foods on patients dissatisfied with statins, and the results showed that Step One Foods lowered their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 9% in just 30 days. From a heart risk perspective, that’s a highly significant reduction. What was also exciting is that among trial participants there were some individuals who saw their LDL fall by 20%, 30% even close to 40%! Those are medication level cholesterol reductions – attained with FOOD. And it’s important to point out that the ONLY thing people did was to swap in 2 servings of Step One Foods per day. No subject took up a new exercise routine or started cooking with kale! To my knowledge, we are the only food company in the world that’s put our products through such rigorous testing and yielded such strong results.
Where is Step One Foods based?
Our operations are based in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, and most of our food is made right here in Minnesota. We currently ship all our products from our headquarters.
What are your best-selling products?
Our Dark Chocolate Crunch Bar and our Anytime Sprinkle are perennial favorites. These can be purchased separately or as part of our “Starter Pack” that also includes Dark Chocolate Walnut Bars, Cranberry Pecan Bars and Blueberry and Cinnamon Oatmeal for a full 30 days supply of snacks and breakfast items. And in case you think all healthy food tastes like cardboard I’d invite you to read through our testimonials. We worked really hard to make sure these foods were not only impactful in terms of health metrics but that they tasted great. After all, it’s not going to work if you won’t eat it.
What do all your products have in common?
All Step One Foods products contain the four building blocks of heart health: whole food fiber, plant sterols, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants in clinically impactful amounts. We focused on these nutrients specifically because most Americans’ diets are woefully deficient in them and because they are integral to maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and improving heart health. Fiber moves cholesterol out of the body, plant sterols block cholesterol absorption, omega-3s lower triglycerides and boost good (HDL) cholesterol, and antioxidants minimize blood vessel plaque buildup. All Step One Foods products are made entirely from real food ingredients, are plant based, gluten-free and non-GMO. Nearly all are sodium free.
Are there any customer reviews or notable press reviews you would like to share?
I wrote an article for CNN explaining why it makes sense to use food as the first step in therapy for conditions caused in part or in whole by food, and about Step One Foods as a proven non-pharmaceutical intervention for high cholesterol. That article remained on the most read list for weeks! Obviously I hit a nerve. I’ve also been interviewed by Food Business and News and The Daily Beast has done a deep dive into how we got started. Forbes and Well+Good have also written about Step One Foods and its dietary pillars.
In addition, the average rating on all 800-plus Starter Pack customer reviews is 4.7 stars. Over 650 of these reviews are five-star reviews! I’m so proud of these statistics. A typical reviewer might say that their cholesterol fell from 231 to 191 in 30 days. But we also see truly eye-popping results being reported – like total cholesterol levels dropping by well over 100 points, and LDL cholesterol levels falling by 80+ points in some cases. I’m not promising this to everyone, but it only takes 30 days to find out if you’re a “food responder”. Isn’t it worth it to see if you fall into that category?
How do you address concerns that Step One Foods are slightly more expensive than other foods?
Step One Foods cost between $2 and $3 per serving. This price reflects their nutritional value. It’s also important to remember that, unlike supplements, these are not “add-on” products. They are substitutions for what you are eating (and spending money on) already. So the absolute cost is minimally different. Plus, this is real food – such as dried fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, real vanilla beans, even 72% cacao dark chocolate of the highest quality – because that’s what is required when your health is on the line. Comparing the cost of our foods to typical grocery-store alternatives is inherently problematic – the reason those are less expensive is because they use lesser ingredients.
Plus if you did opt for a grocery-store alternative, you’d end up spending as much money (or more) on supplements to add in the amounts of fiber, plant sterols, omega-3s, and antioxidants that are naturally present in Step One Foods. In the end, healthy food is not expensive. What’s expensive is being sick.
Our Readers LOVE Deals – Are You Currently Running Any Promotions?
Our Starter Pack is already priced at a discount to encourage folks to get started. But right now, we’re running a promotion for 10% off the Starter Pack (this is actually 20% if you sign up for a subscription plan). You can get your 30-day supply of three snack bars and two breakfasts by clicking here. Addressing the root cause of your high cholesterol is really that easy – just as it should be. Just use the code STARTNOW10. Offer valid for new customers only.