According to the public health specialists, high cholesterol levels represent one of the major factors influencing the development of chronic heart disease, but it looks like olive oil can do the trick. The researchers have discovered that virgin olive oil can boost good cholesterol.
Olive oil is an important ingredient used in the Mediterranean diet, which has become widely popular in recent years thanks to its broad array of health benefits. The scientists have found that virgin olive oil enhances High Density Lipoproteins or HDL.
The health experts regard HDL as the good cholesterol. Lead researcher Montserrat Fitó says that HDL is less effective in those who are more likely to develop strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular ailments.
This is because the lipoprotein’s functionality relies mainly on its quantity. According to Fitó, the study suggests that the functionality of the HDL can be boosted if people consume more foods rich in anti-oxidants, such as tomatoes, virgin olive oil, and berries just to name a few.
During the study, the scientists analyzed 296 participants who had a median age of 66. Also, they had a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The researchers took blood samples from the subjects before and after the research.
The participants were divided into three groups who followed three different diets. The first group consumed a standard Mediterranean diet with roughly four tablespoons of olive oil every day. The second consumed the same diet but with a handful of nuts instead of virgin olive oil.
Last but not least, the third group followed a diet with a low intake of red meat, processed foods, dairy products, and sweets. It is worth mentioning that the researchers monitored the subjects for twelve months.
Based on the results, the consumers from the third group had reduced levels of Low Density Lipoproteins, or LDL, which are known as the bad cholesterol. The experts said that no group experienced a growth in HDL levels.
Still, the Mediterranean diet was effective in boosting the HDL functioning. Moreover, the diet with virgin olive oil resulted in a greater increase in HDL functionality. Fitó concludes that people who follow a Mediterranean diet with olive oil can reduce the risk of heart disease and other conditions, thanks to an improved functionality in good cholesterol.
Besides olive oil, this diet consists of other foods rich in healthy fats, such as fish, nuts, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.