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Benefit Seen From Adding Monounsaturated Fat to Diet

Diet switching monounsaturated fat for some carb calories tied to higher HDL, lower total cholesterol

MONDAY, Nov. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Adding monounsaturated fat to a cholesterol-lowering diet can improve the diet's effectiveness, as evidenced by increases in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol and reductions in the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol and in C-reactive protein, according to research published online Nov. 1 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

David J.A. Jenkins, M.D., of St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, and colleagues analyzed data from 24 men and postmenopausal women with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. All subjects went on a diet low in saturated fat for one month and then were randomized to a diet low or high in monounsaturated fatty acid for another month. In the high-monounsaturated fatty acid diet, 13 percent of carbohydrate calories were replaced with sunflower oil.

The researchers found that HDL cholesterol rose in the high-monounsaturated group, compared to no change in the other group, with a significant 12.5 percent treatment difference. The high-monounsaturated diet was also associated with a 6.5-percent reduction in ratio of total to HDL cholesterol. Participants on this diet also had higher apolipoprotein AI and lower C-reactive protein.

"The potential of an effective cholesterol-lowering diet to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease may be significantly enhanced by inclusion of a moderate amount of monounsaturated fat. The long-term effect on self-selected diets remains to be determined, in terms of compliance and in terms of the lipid response and, ultimately, cardiovascular outcomes," the authors conclude.

Several co-authors disclosed relationships with pharmaceutical companies, food-related trade groups, and other interests.

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