A heart-healthy diet helped men at high risk for heart disease reduce their bad cholesterol, regardless of whether they lost weight, in a study presented at the American Heart Association's Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2013 Scientific Sessions.
The 19 24- to 62-year-old men in the study had metabolic syndrome, which refers to three or more significant risk factors for heart disease and stroke. The risk factors included in this study were high waist circumference, high blood pressure, high levels of triglycerides and fasting glucose and low levels of high density lipoprotein or HDL "good" cholesterol.
For five weeks, the men followed a standard North American diet which is high in fats, carbohydrates, refined sugar and red meat. For a second five weeks, they ate a Mediterranean-style diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and low in red meat. It also includes olive oil and moderate wine drinking.
The men then went on a 20-week weight-loss regime, then another five weeks of Mediterranean eating.
Regardless of whether patients lost weight, following the Mediterranean-style diet resulted in a 9 percent decrease in levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL) known as "bad" cholesterol. Similarly, blood concentrations of the protein part of the lipoprotein, called apolipoproteinB, dropped 9 percent after eating Mediterranean-style. Apolipoprotein plays an important role in lipid transport and metabolism.
"The Mediterranean-style diet, or MedDiet, may be recommended for effective management of the metabolic syndrome and its related risk of cardiovascular disease," said Caroline Richard, M.Sc., study lead author and a registered dietician and Ph.D. candidate in nutrition under the mentorship of Benoît Lamarche, Ph.D. at Laval University in Québec, Canada.