New research from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine provides further evidence that a Mediterranean style diet rich in monounsaturated fat from olive oil, avocadoes and nuts improves heart health even if the diet is not coupled with weight loss.
In their report prepared for the American Heart Association’s scientific sessions, the researchers said that swapping out certain foods could improve heart health in those at risk for cardiovascular disease, even if the dietary changes aren’t accompanied by a loss in weight.
The team of John Hopkins researchers analyzed data from the OmniHeart Trial, which compared cardiovascular effects of three different diets; a carbohydrate rich diet, a protein rich diet and an unsaturated fats rich diet.
Each participant followed each of the three diets for 6 weeks while the researchers gathered information on the ability of the body to regulate blood sugar and maintain healthy insulin levels while on those diets. According to the researchers if the body fails to effectively use insulin this can lead to development of type 2 diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease.
The results of their analysis found that a diet higher in unsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil, nut and avocadoes, improved the use of insulin compared to the other two diets.
The unsaturated fat diet basically replaced some of the carbohydrates with good fats, resulting in a diet makeup of 37 percent fat. The investigators say that the preferred diet is very similar to the Mediterranean diet, inspired by the foods of southern Italy and Greece, emphasizing healthy fats, fruits and vegetables.
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It appears that adding olive oil to your diet, while removing some of the processed carbohydrates will result in better heart health. “The introduction of the right kind of fat into a healthy diet is another tool to reduce the risk of future heart disease,” says Meghana Gadgil, M.D., M.P.H., one of the researchers who presented the study.