Even people with raised levels of cholesterol don’t need to take a statin drug – the Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and oils, does the job just as well.

The diet reduces levels of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol by 35 per cent, while raising levels of HDL, or ‘good’, cholesterol 12 per cent. Scientists believe the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) in the diet is having the positive effect

They tested the diet on 24 people with low to moderately high levels of cholesterol. The patients had already been on a low saturated-fat diet that had not reduced levels. Half were put on a either a high or low-MUFA diet. The high-MUFA diet included a sunflower oil, which was spread on salads and vegetables.

The researchers, from St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, noted a “significant reduction” in cholesterol levels of those who had the high-MUFA diet for two months.

(Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2010; doi: 10.1503/cmaj.092128).

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