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Could This Be the Perfect Diet for Lowering Cholesterol?

Adding more monounsaturated fats to your diet can help reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase levels of HDL (good) cholesterol according to a recent study. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Toronto and their findings were published in the October 2010 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Monounsaturated fats are found in vegetable oils, nuts and avocados and are a staple in the increasingly popular Mediterranean diet.

For the study, researchers had 24 participants with high cholesterol follow a standard low saturated fat diet commonly assigned to people with high cholesterol.

After following that diet for one month, the participants switched to a high-fiber vegetarian diet that had been shown in a previous study to lower LDL cholesterol in adults with high levels. In addition, half of the participants were assigned to replace 13% of their daily carbohydrate consumption with monounsaturated fats in the form of sunflower oil and avocados.

The researchers found that both groups saw a similar reduction in LDL cholesterol levels of 20% for the regular low fat diet and 35% for the vegetarian diet. However, the participants that also received monounsaturated fats saw a 12% increase in HDL cholesterol and a reduction in a marker for inflammation called c-reactive protein.

They noted that the results were exactly what someone with high cholesterol would be looking for from a diet because they not only effectively reduced bad cholesterol but also increased good cholesterol.

These findings add more evidence to back the benefits of following a Mediterranean style diet. While the diet used in this study wasn't 100% Mediterranean, many of the elements were similar.

The Mediterranean diet is typical of people who live in the European countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and healthy oils.

People that follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have improved heart health, lower rates of obesity and a decreased risk of overall mortality.

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