Diet Rich In Healthy Fats like Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Compelling new evidence has revealed that some low-carb diets, rich in healthy monounsaturated fats such as extra virgin olive oil can reduce risk of heart disease and promote healthy cholesterol levels.
According to a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, diets – such as the Mediterranean Diet – which are rich in health fats including extra virgin olive oil may lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar.
Researchers from the Boston Children’s Hospital, Framingham State University and Harvard Medical School carried out a randomised controlled feeding trial to assess how low-carbohydrate diets might affect markers of insulin resistance and heart health.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Low Fat Diets and Health Benefits
As Reported in Business Insider South Africa, researchers studied 164 overweight and obese participants, without diabetes or heart disease, who had completed a calorie-restricted weight-loss diet. Following the weight loss, they were assigned one of three different weight maintenance diets for five months: a low-carb diet (no more than 20% of daily calories from carbs), moderate carb (40%), or high carb (60%).
Study findings showed that lowering carbs was linked to significant improvements to measures of insulin resistance, the body’s ability to respond to the hormone insulin to manage blood sugar levels, a key factor in type 2 diabetes risk.
The low-carb dieters also didn’t show any signs of side effects from the high-fat diet. In fact, measures of heart health such as their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and triglycerides remained stable or improved.
The results of this significant research supports a belief that a low-carb, diet, high in healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, may have promising benefits for overall health, and be less risky than previously believed.
As part of the study, researchers assessed whether the benefits associated with low-carb diets (including weight loss) came at the expense of potential heart disease risk factors.
Study participants following a low carbohydrate diet consumed 21% of their calorific intake from saturated fat and still saw improvements in heart health. This suggests that the benefits of low-carb intake outweighs the potential risk of higher fat content.
Why Choose Extra Virgin Olive Oil Instead Of Saturated Fats?
Contrary to misconceptions, fat is actually a nutrient with important functions, but it is crucial to know the risk factors associated with too much saturated fat.
Fat, including the monounsaturated fat found in quality olive oil, is a rich source of energy, providing more than double that of either carbohydrate or protein. It is a carrier for the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It provides the essential fatty acids, including oleic acid linoleic and alpha-linolenic acid, which are polyunsaturated.
To remain healthy, we need moderate amounts of the right type of unsaturated fats eaten as part of a good, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean Diet.. However, a high fat intake and in particular, a high intake of saturated fats is associated with raised blood cholesterol and coronary heart disease.
By making a change from saturated fats, such as butter, lard or animal fats to extra virgin olive oil, which contains much higher levels of monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, you are helping to reduce the risk of high cholesterol affecting the function of your heart and arteries.
Can The Mediterranean Diet Help Reduce LDL Cholesterol?
Nearly twenty years ago two landmark randomized clinical trials appeared in The Lancet which forever changed the course of medicine for patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). The 4S study employed a cholesterol-lowering statin drug and reported a 30% mortality reduction. The Lyon Diet Heart Study utilized the Mediterranean diet and reported a 70% mortality reduction.
Subsequent studies of the Mediterranean diet have confirmed these findings and have also shown a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Subsequent statin studies have led the United States Food and Drug Administration to issue warnings regarding the increased risk of diabetes and decreased cognition with statin drugs.