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Mediterranean diet helps control cholesterol: Adding monounsaturated fats to a low-cholesterol diet can further improve levels

Date:
November 3, 2010
Source:
Canadian Medical Association Journal
Summary:
The addition of monounsaturated fat to a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio in patients with mild to moderate elevated cholesterol levels increased HDL by 12.5 percent and lowered LDL levels by 35 percent, found a new study.
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Plate with baked stuffed eggplants. The addition of dietary monounsaturated fat, common in the Mediterranean diet, is a current approach to raising HDL-C levels.
Credit: iStockphoto

The addition of monounsaturated fat (MUFA) to a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio in patients with mild to moderate elevated cholesterol levels increased HDL by 12.5% and lowered LDL levels by 35%, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Low HDL-C levels and high LDL-C levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The addition of dietary monounsaturated fat, common in the Mediterranean diet, is a current approach to raising HDL-C levels.

The study included 24 patients (17 men and 7 postmenopausal women) 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 were assigned to a specific vegetarian diet which 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.

They found significant reductions in blood cholesterol levels over the two month study period for participants.

"The replacement of 13% of total calories from carbohydrate by monounsaturated fats in the dietary portfolio resulted in a 12.5% greater increase in HDL-C over the four weeks, while not altering the substantial LDL-C reduction," writes Dr. David Jenkins, Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, with coauthors.

Other strategies to raise HDL-C include exercise and moderate consumption of alcohol as well as weight loss and smoking cessation.

"The addition of MUFA increased HDL-C and therefore may further enhance the cardioprotective effect of the cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio without diminishing its cholesterol-lowering effect," state the authors.

However, they state that the long-term effect on diets that are self-directed by patients needs to be determined as do cardiovascular outcomes.


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The above story is based on materials provided by Canadian Medical Association Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


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Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Mediterranean diet helps control cholesterol: Adding monounsaturated fats to a low-cholesterol diet can further improve levels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101125939.htm>.
Canadian Medical Association Journal. (2010, November 3). Mediterranean diet helps control cholesterol: Adding monounsaturated fats to a low-cholesterol diet can further improve levels. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101125939.htm
Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Mediterranean diet helps control cholesterol: Adding monounsaturated fats to a low-cholesterol diet can further improve levels." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101101125939.htm (accessed May 27, 2015).

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