Increasing the amount of olive oil or nuts in your diet may make your good cholesterol do its job better, says Dr. Anand Rohatgi, a preventive cardiologist at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
HDL cholesterol is widely known as “good cholesterol” because it helps clear cholesterol out of arteries. High levels of HDL cholesterol are known to be associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
But recent trials of drugs that raise HDL cholesterol, like niacin and CETP inhibitors, failed to improve heart outcomes.
This prompted scientists to look at something called “cholesterol efflux capacity,” which is how well your HDL works at sweeping up cholesterol and transporting it to the liver, where it is removed from the body.
“Simply increasing HDL cholesterol levels doesn’t seem to track with HDL’s protective functions,” Dr. Rohatgi says.
Now the good news: Dr. Rohatgi says recent studies suggest that both olive oil and nuts improve cholesterol efflux capacity.
Perhaps not surprisingly, both olive oil and nuts such as walnuts and almonds are key elements of the widely touted Mediterranean diet.
“We’re still working out what drives cholesterol efflux,” Dr. Rohatgi says. “In the meantime, however, it looks likely that adding more olive oil or nuts to your diet can help clear your body of artery-clogging cholesterol.”
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News source: UT Southwestern. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
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