New study: For a Healthy Heart, add a little Olive Oil

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The effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet isn’t really up for debate anymore—at this point, it’s more a question of how to tweak it, and home in on what the active ingredients are. (For example, the MIND diet is a science-based variant of the Mediterranean diet, developed purely from what the research has shown.) Now, a new study looks at whether olive oil or nuts do more for cholesterol in people at high risk of heart disease, since both have been shown to have significant heart benefits in the past, and both contain healthy fats. The short answer is that olive oil seems to do more for cholesterol, but nuts are not without their own benefit.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is considered the “good” cholesterol, since it clears less healthy forms of cholesterol from the blood. But it hasn’t been shown to function so well in people who are at higher risk of heart disease. “At the same time, small-scale trials have shown that consuming antioxidant-rich foods like virgin olive oil, tomatoes and berries improved HDL function in humans,” said study author Montserrat Fitó in a news release. “We wanted to test those findings in a larger, controlled study.” The authors underline that how well HDL functions is at least as important as how much of it you have.

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