Monounsaturated Fats May Improve Low-Cholesterol Diet

Monounsaturated Fats May Improve Low-Cholesterol Diet

Increasing the amount of monounsaturated fats in your diet may be an added plus to an already low-cholesterol diet.

Cholesterol is a waxy-like substance contained in the lipids, or fats, in your blood. Your body requires a certain amount of cholesterol to build strong cells. But too much cholesterol can obstruct blood flow in your arteries, and increase your risk suffering a heart attack or stroke, reports the Mayo Clinic.

A Canadian study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found adding monounsaturated fats to a low cholesterol diet may further help manage cholesterol levels.

Monounsaturated fats appear to reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol while helping to increase HDL or good cholesterol.

The two-month long study involved 24 men and women with mild to moderately high cholesterol. During phase one of the study, the volunteers were placed on a diet low in saturated fat. After one month, the participants were randomly assigned to a vegetarian diet that was either low or high in monounsaturated fats.

At the end of phase two, both groups had slashed their LDL cholesterol levels by over one-third. HDL cholesterol jumped 12.5% in the group that received high amounts of monounsaturated fat, while HDL levels in the low-monounsaturated group were unchanged. The study was lead by David J.A. Jenkins, a University Professor in the department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Toronto, Canada.

Understanding Dietary Fat

Saturated fat is the primary dietary cause of high cholesterol, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Saturated fat is contained mainly in animal foods including beef, beef fat, veal, lamb, pork, poultry, butter, cream, milk and cheese. Plant sources of saturated fat include cocoa butter, coconut, coconut oil and palm oil.

Monounsaturated fats include avocados, olives walnuts, vegetable oils like canola, olive and sunflower as well as herring, salmon and trout.

Managing Your Cholesterol Levels

The AHA recommends limiting your total fat intake to less than 30% of your daily calories. Saturated fats should make up no more than 5% of your calories each day.

Exercising for 30 minutes or more at least five days a week may help prevent high cholesterol, according to the Mayo Clinic. Losing excess weight and keeping it off may also help manage your cholesterol levels.

Categories: Diet, Health, Nutrition