Saturated fatty acids are found in food sources such as lard, butter, whole milk, eggs, red meat, and chocolate. Eating a diet high in saturated fatty acids can raise your cholesterol levels and lead to an increased risk of developing coronary artery disease.
In contrast, monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are found in food sources such as avocados, nuts, as well as canola, olive and peanut oils. The salutary Mediterranean diet is replete with monounsaturated fatty acids. MUFAs are known to be one potential strategy for raising HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) while lowing LDL cholesterol particularly when they replace dietary carbohydrates.
A study just published in the Canadian Medical Association journal looked at the effect of increasing dietary sources of MUFAs in patients with hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol levels .
The study included a total of 24 patients with high cholesterol levels who first consumed a diet low in saturated fat for one month, then were randomized to a diet high or low in monounsaturated fat for an additional month.
Both groups in this study consumed a vegetarian diet which included oats, psyllium, barley, eggplant, soy, almonds, and plant-sterol enriched margarine. In the MUFA group, they substituted 13% of calories from carbohydrate with sunflower oil with the option to exchange with avocado oil (both high in monounsaturated fat).
What the study authors found included statistically significant elevations of 12.% in HDL cholesterol in the group randomized to a diet high in monounsaturated fat. In contrast, the other group’s HDL cholesterol remained unchanged.
In addition, the MUFA group also demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratios (atherogenic index) of 6.5%. The MUFA group also had significantly higher levels of Apolipoprotein A1, a component of HDL involved in transferring cholesterol to the liver for metabolism.
[box type=”important”]What’s more is that MUFA group also had significantly lower concentrations of C-reactive protein, a serum marker of inflammation which has been linked to heart disease risk.[/box]
Overall, both groups demonstrated statin medication-like reductions in LDL cholesterol over the 2 months of the study of around 35%. The HDL elevations demonstrated in this study was tantamount to those from Gemfibrozil medication according to the study authors.
Other methods of increasing your HDL cholesterol levels including moderate alcohol consumption as well as regular exercise. For more tips on how to reduce your risk of heart disease, follow the link.