Another day, another study that suggests the Mediterranean diet is simply the best way to eat. This is the way of eating that stresses olive oil, fish, and lots of vegetables. The new study says it is most effective in controlling cholesterol.
The key here, in the Mediterranean diet overall, is the presence of monounsaturated fats (MUFA). These are the opposite of saturated fats; they are the ones that extremely healthful for us. They are extremely high in both fish and olive oil.
And the new study found that adding the fats to a cholesterol-lowering diet for people with mild to moderate high cholesterol lowered LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by a whopping 35% on average. Plus, it increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol by 12.5%. The results were published in the “Canadian Medical Association Journal.”
Low HDL levels and high LDL levels are risk factors for heart disease. The addition of MUFA in your diet, common in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea, is a current approach to raising HDL levels.
The study included 24 adults who completed a very low saturated fat diet before being randomly assigned to either a high-MUFA diet or a low-MUFA diet. Both groups of patients followed specific vegetarian diets that included oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, soy, almonds and a plant-sterol-enriched margarine. In the high-MUFA group, the researchers substituted 13% of calories from carbohydrates with a high-MUFA sunflower oil, with the option of a partial exchange with avocado oil.
The result: significant reductions in blood cholesterol levels over the two-month study period.
Replacing 13% of calories from carbs with those from MUFA led to a further elevation in HDL levels without altering the great reduction in LDL cholesterol. It is an excellent piece of insight into a very important area of disease prevention. Keeping cholesterol in check will help you keep future disease at bay.
Other strategies to raise your good cholesterol levels include regular exercise, drinking alcohol only in moderation, weight loss, and quitting smoking.
Boost your intake of fatty fish and olive oil and you will receive further protection for your heart.