Diets with cholesterol-lowering foods, such as viscous fibers and plant sterols, benefit diets that are low in saturated fats. A higher intake of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) increases blood levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and does not raise LDL cholesterol. The present study was done to see if increasing the MUFAs to a level sufficient to lower LDL cholesterol, alters markers of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, such as HDL cholesterol and serum triglycerides.
Twenty-four patients with known hyperlipidemia were given a diet low in saturated fatty acids (SFA) for one month. They were then given diets with either low or high MUFAs for a month. The diets were all vegetarian. Sunflower oil and avocado oil were used to replace the SFAs. A plant sterol rich margarine was used. The fiber was from oats, barley, psyllium, eggplant and okra. The diet included olives, avocados, nuts, canola oil and olive oil.
The results of the study were that the patients on a high MUFA diets had higher elevations of HDL cholesterol. They had higher levels of apolipoprotein Al and lower levels of C-reactive proteins.
The patients on the low MUFA diet had no change in HDL cholesterol. MUFAs are important in the Mediterranean diet and include nuts and vegetable oils. There were no significant differences in triglycerides, lipids or body weight. Similar loss of weight was seen in both groups.
CONCLUSION: A diet high in MUFAs was effective in increasing HDL-cholesterol and reduced C-reactive protein. MUFAs are especially beneficial when they replace carbohydrates. The results are equal to those seen with statins. The high MUFA diet needs long term testing for cardiovascular outcomes.
NOTE: Apolipoproteins are proteins which can attach to lipids, which are not water soluble. This form guides the lipids through the water soluble fluid of the circulatory and lymphatic systems.
Read about the management of low HDL-cholesterol.
C-reactive protein is a blood test that is considered a marker for cardiovascular risk.