The Mediterranean diet has gotten a lot of attention, but scientists haven’t known exactly why it works. A new analysis of data from a randomized trial shows why olive oil is so protective.
The PREDIMED Study:
The PREDIMED trial had three groups of volunteers. One ate a traditional Mediterranean diet that was supplemented with a liter of extra virgin olive oil a week. Another group ate a similar diet supplemented with an ounce of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts daily. The third group ate a prudent low-fat diet. While the low-fat diet lowered LDL and total cholesterol, both Mediterranean diet groups had significantly fewer cardiovascular events. These initial results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine, April 4, 2013.
The Benefits of Olive Oil:
Now scientists have examined blood tests and laboratory findings from those volunteers and discovered how olive oil worked its magic. The participants who ate the olive-oil enriched diet had HDL that worked better. It was more effective at removing LDL cholesterol and keeping it from oxidizing. Their HDL also helped blood vessels relax, an action that lowers blood pressure.
The investigators conclude that a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil improves HDL’s ability to protect the heart and blood vessels.
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