The Mediterranean diet, famous for its heart healthy benefits, is getting more rave reviews from researchers. In Canada, scientists discovered a diet packed with nuts, avocados, and olive oil can reduce "bad" cholesterol while bolstering the good stuff.

The new study, published November 1 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, supports that a Mediterranean diet, naturally high in monounsaturated fats, can lead to heart health. The findings, from a two-month study of 24 adults with moderately high cholesterol, revealed that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats dropped "bad" cholesterol (LDL-C) by 35 percent and raised "good" cholesterol (HDL-C) by around 12 percent.

David Jenkins at the University of Toronto and St. Michael's Hospital in Ontario, Canada, recommends filling your plate with nuts, avocados, and sunflower and olive oils, while cutting back on highly refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and processed snack foods, to reduce LDL-C levels. Other key factors include plenty of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber (10 grams for every 1,000 calories) from whole grains, almonds, eggplants and okra.

According the Mayo Clinic, the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet also emphasizes:

  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)

Need more good reasons to go Mediterranean? Recent research from the University of Rovira i Virgili in Reus, Spain, revealed that Mediterranean diets can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes - even without counting calories or dropping weight. Also researchers at Tel Aviv University suggest that eating Mediterranean foods can work as a natural sunscreen to protect against skin cancer.

To read the study: http://www.cmaj.ca/

To learn more about the Mediterranean diet: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet/CL00011

 

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