A Mediterranean diet particularly protects the heart

Olive oil and proper nutrition increase the functions of healthy HDL cholesterol
There are already numerous studies that promise health benefits to a Mediterranean diet. Researchers have now discovered that a so-called traditional Mediterranean diet with the addition of olive oil can improve the functions of healthy HDL cholesterol in the blood and thus reduce the risk of heart disease.

The researchers at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona found out that a Mediterranean diet with the addition of olive oil protects against heart diseases and has a positive effect on the function of HDL cholesterol. The doctors published the results of their study in the journal "Circulation".

What types of food does a Mediterranean diet contain?
A Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil improves the function of so-called high-density lipoproteins (HDL). These are popularly known as good or healthy cholesterol, says the Spanish author Dr. Alvaro Hernáez. Such a diet usually includes many fruits and legumes that are rich in antioxidants. A lot of vegetables, whole grains and olive oil are also consumed. In the Mediterranean diet, protein sources such as chicken and fish are preferred over red meat, which contains more saturated fatty acids.

Better protected HDL can perform biological functions more efficiently
Our hypothesis is that the antioxidants bind to HDL particles and can protect them against various types of attacks, the scientists explain. The better protection of high-density lipoproteins enables them to perform their biological functions more efficiently. The experts add that they are better able to remove cholesterol from arteries or to help relax the blood vessels.

HDL can remove excess LDL from the blood
High levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL), known as bad cholesterol, are also known as triglycerides, the researchers say. These are associated with an increased risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. HDL, on the other hand, leads to a lower risk because it can remove excess LDL from the blood. Harmful deposits in the vessels are transported to the liver. There can be broken down by the human body.

Subjects were divided into three different nutritional groups
For the current study, the author examined Dr. Hernáez and his colleagues used data from over 296 older adults at risk of cardiovascular disease. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of three different nutritional groups. One of these groups included a Mediterranean diet, supplemented with the increased consumption of extra virgin olive oil. Another group received a low-fat diet and the last group was fed a Mediterranean diet, which was enriched with the consumption of 30 grams of nuts per day, the scientists explain.

Subjects had to follow the recommended diet for a year
The study participants were on average 66 years old. Subjects were asked to follow the diet assigned to them for a period of one year, the authors say. Only the low-fat diet was associated with reduced LDL and total cholesterol, the researchers add. None of the diets examined significantly increased the HDL level. In the group that received a Mediterranean diet with the addition of olive oil, however, the high-density lipoproteins functioned better.

Mediterranean diet reduces risk of heart disease and cancer
Some previous studies had already linked a Mediterranean diet to weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers. However, it was still largely unclear whether the diet or other lifestyle choices are responsible for this, the researchers explain.

All types of diet tested have a positive impact on health
The limitations of the current study included the fact that all three types of diet were relatively healthy and had a positive impact on our health. For this reason, it was difficult to identify meaningful differences in the results, the authors add.

Mediterranean diet helps people avoid heart disease
A Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of developing heart diseases. The exact reason for this is still largely unknown, say the experts. There is probably more than one reason, but improving the functions of HDL through a Mediterranean diet with olive oil could be a mechanism for this, the scientists add. If people want to reduce their risk of heart disease, the Mediterranean diet is probably the best-tested diet to avoid this risk. (as)

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Video: Why is the Mediterranean diet good for your heart? (January 2022).