The addition of monounsaturated fat (MUFA) to a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio in patients with mild to moderate elevated cholesterol levels increased HDL by 12.5% and lowered LDL levels by 35%, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/embargo/cmaj092128.pdf.
Low HDL-C levels and high LDL-C levels are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The addition of dietary monounsaturated fat, common in the Mediterranean diet, is a current approach to raising HDL-C levels.
The study included 24 patients (17 men and 7 postmenopausal women) who completed a very low saturated fat diet before being randomly assigned to either a high-MUFA diet or a low- MUFA diet. Both groups of patients were assigned to a specific vegetarian diet which included oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant, okra, soy, almonds and a plant sterol enriched margarine. In the high-MUFA group, the researchers substituted 13% of calories from carbohydrates with a high-MUFA sunflower oil, with the option of a partial exchange with avocado oil.
They found significant reductions in blood cholesterol levels over the two month study period for participants.
"The replacement of 13% of total calories from carbohydrate by monounsaturated fats in the dietary portfolio resulted in a 12.5% greater increase in HDL-C over the four weeks, while not altering the substantial LDL-C reduction," writes Dr. David Jenkins, Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, with coauthors.
Other strategies to raise HDL-C include exercise and moderate consumption of alcohol as well as weight loss and smoking cessation.
"The addition of MUFA increased HDL-C and therefore may further enhance the cardioprotective effect of the cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio without diminishing its cholesterol-lowering effect," state the authors.
However, they state that the long-term effect on diets that are self-directed by patients needs to be determined as do cardiovascular outcomes.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.