It is a common perception for anything that is gaining popularity to be either rigged or be worthless. We have heard similar comments about olive oil and the Mediterranean food since it is quite a fad to go out and order Mediterranean food these days. But is there any truth in the assumption that Mediterranean food and olive oil are healthy and good sources of HDL or the good cholesterol.

There are two types of cholesterol namely LDL and HDL. High levels of LDL or the bad cholesterol/triglycerides increase risk of heart and blood vessel diseases. HDL or the good cholesterol on the other hand reduces this risk by removing LDL from blood.

The Mediterranean form of cooking is composed of lots of vegetables and pulses. The meat component comprises of lean meat which is either chicken or fish combined with the vegetables and pulses. This helps in forming food complexes between abundant antioxidants from vegetables, nuts and pulses and HDL from olive oil which together protect HDL cholesterol and hence enhance its functional activity. Oils often are the first things which a doctor advices to stop if someone has high cholesterol. May not be the case with olive oil if substituted with a diet rich in pulses and vegetables. This combination may effectively lower the cholesterol as a recent study indicates.

This was observed in a study recently published in the famous Journal Circulation. The study carried out a trial where they selected a group of people who were then put on the Mediterranean food. One group was asked to take nuts with Mediterranean food and the other olive oil. The results were compared after 1 year. Although the nuts diet was able to bring down the bad cholesterol it was observed that the olive oil supplemented diet increased the efficiency of good cholesterol significantly.

This is a great insight into the benefits of the Mediterranean diet with olive oil for heart health. This may be the starting point of evolving of Olive oil finally as the oil of choice for better heart health and not just a fad word.


1. Hernaez A, Castaner O, Elosua R, et al. Circulation. 2017 Feb 14;135(7):633-643.

The article has been contributed by:

Dr. Atanu Kundu
, MD (Medicine), P. G. Dip. Diabetology, Consultant Physician & Diabetologist, Clinicure Diabetes & Wellness Clinic, Arambagh, Hooghly


The views and opinions expressed by the Doctors are their independent professional judgment and we do not take any responsibility for the accuracy of their views. This should not be considered as a substitute for Physician’s advice. Please consult your treating Physician for more details.

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