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A Mediterranean diet with lashings of virgin olive oil may help protect the heart

14/02/2017

A Mediterranean diet with lashings of virgin olive oil may help protect the heartA Mediterranean-inspired meal with lashings of virgin olive oil may help to protect your heart, according to new research.

Cholesterol is carried around the blood by two different types of molecules called lipoproteins: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

You'll most likely know LDL as "bad cholesterol". That's because high levels of LDL can lead to plaque building up in arteries, which can result in heart disease and stroke. HDL, on the other hand, the so-called "good bacteria", actually absorbs cholesterol and carries it to the liver where it is flushed from the body.

That's why having high levels of HDL can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Previous research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can protect against the development of heart disease as it improves the lipid profile of HDLs.

The new research - which was led by Montserrat Fitó, Ph.D., coordinator of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain - aimed to determine whether eating a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil or nuts over a long period of time would improve the beneficial properties of HDL in humans.

Fitó's team randomly selected a total of 296 people who already had a high risk of heart disease and were participating in a separate study. They had an average age of 66 and were assigned to one of three diets for a year.

They found that the individuals on the Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil had improved HDL functions.

"Following a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil could protect our cardiovascular health in several ways, including making our 'good cholesterol' work in a more complete way," said Fitó.
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