Researchers randomly assigned 372 participants at high cardiovascular risk to a low fat diet, or one of two traditional Mediterranean diets - one with extra virgin olive oil, the other with nuts.
After a three-month study period, researchers found that the olive oil-rich group had a reduction in oxidized LDL by 10.6 units per liter, while the nut-rich group led to a reduction of 7.3 units per liter.
The oxidation of LDL is suspected of playing an important role in the development of hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.
Both groups receiving the traditional Mediterranean diet experienced decreases in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The Mediterranean diet with nuts also led to a reduction in triglycerides and an increase in HDL ("good") cholesterol.
The Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grain, legumes and fish, has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
These latest findings were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
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