Eating monounsaturated fats boosts heart health

We’ve actually known this fact for sometime. In fact, monounsaturated fats are one of the reasons the Mediterranean Diet is so healthful. Which just shows that the success of a low-cholesterol diet can actually be improved by adding monounsaturated fat, which are commonly found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and oils such as olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil. And, now some new research is backing these facts. Here are the details from USA Today:

In the study, researchers randomly assigned 17 men and seven postmenopausal women with mild to moderate elevated cholesterol levels to either a high-monounsaturated fat diet or a low one.

Both groups consumed a vegetarian diet that included oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, soy, almonds and a plant sterol-enriched margarine. In the high group, the researchers substituted 13% of calories from carbohydrates with a high-monounsaturated-fat sunflower oil, with the option of a partial exchange with avocado oil.

In the high group, levels of “good” cholesterol — high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or HDL — increased 12.5% while levels of “bad” cholesterol — low-density lipoprotein cholesterol or LDL — decreased 35%, according to the report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

People with low HDL levels and high LDL levels are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, Dr. David Jenkins of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues said in a news release.

“The addition of MUFA increased (HDL) and therefore may further enhance the cardioprotective effect of the cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio without diminishing its cholesterol-lowering effect,” Jenkins and colleagues wrote.

Monounsaturated fats are commonly consumed in what is known as the Mediterranean diet, said the researchers, who added that exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, not smoking and weight loss can also help raise “good” HDL cholesterol.

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.