The Mediterranean diet has long been proved that it is a heart healthy diet. One of the reasons why is because of the amount of olive oil that is consumed. A new yearlong study shows that olive oil helps improve healthy cholesterol.
What is Healthy Cholesterol?
There are two different types of cholesterols; one is bad and one is good. The bad cholesterol is called low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and the good cholesterol is called high-density lipoprotein (HDL).
HDL helps to eliminate LDL particles that can cause buildup in arterial walls. LDL cholesterol can be more dense and small than HDL, so having more of these types of cholesterol can be dangerous.
HDL has high functioning and low functioning types. HDL2 is high functioning HDL that works harder to keep your heart healthier.
Olive Oil Helps Improve Healthy Cholesterol
The Mediterranean diet is largely based on fish, nuts, vegetables, and healthy fats. This is a typical diet for people who live along the Mediterranean Sea and has been picked up by other countries for its health benefits.
A new study looked at the different effects of eating a Mediterranean diet enriched with either nuts or olive oil or eating a low-fat non-Mediterranean diet with fruits, vegetables, and a small amount of red meat.
For a year, 300 people were randomly assigned one of these three diets. After the study, the researchers first compared the blood cholesterol levels from the participants’ start to end levels.
They found that the participants who ate the low-fat non-Mediterranean diet had lower LDL and total cholesterol than the participants who ate the two Mediterranean diets. However, the people who ate the Mediterranean diets had more of the high functioning HDL.
Montserrat Fito from the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona led the study. He and his team found that olive oil helps improve healthy cholesterol and the group that ate the diet higher in olive oil had the biggest improvement in their HDL levels and function.
Their HDL was able to get rid of LDL and push them towards the liver to get removed. Furthermore, their HDL showed better results in its ability to function as an antioxidant and providing protection against damage from inflammation that makes blood vessels more prone to plaque build up.
Fito stated, “Our hypothesis is that all the antioxidant compounds in olive oil bind to the HDL particle and preserve [it] from oxidative stress. And that maintains the HDL in better quality.”
While the participants who ate the Mediterranean diet that included nuts experienced a boost in HDL performance, those who ate the diet with olive oil outperformed them.
The most interesting about this study is that the HDL levels didn’t increase a significant amount with any of the three diets. Olive oil helps improve healthy cholesterol but does not increase it.
You can substitute olive oil into your meals by replacing butter, Crisco, or vegetable oil with it.
If you want to increase HDL, exercise is the way to go. Regular exercise increases HDL levels and lowers LDL levels naturally. Combine exercise with a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil, and your cholesterol levels will be healthy in no time!