Even if it doesn't lead to weight loss, eating a Mediterranean diet can help men with their cholesterol levels, according to a small new study.
The research, presented at the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology 2013 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, shows that consuming a Mediterranean diet -- which includes lots of produce, whole grains and olive oil and moderate amounts of wine -- is linked with lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, even if there is no weight loss achieved.
The study included 19 men, between ages 24 and 62, all of whom had metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a known heart disease and diabetes risk factor, and includes having a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high body mass index and high cholesterol.
Researchers had the men eat a standard American diet -- which has lots of red meat, sugar, carbohydrates and fat -- for five weeks, and then had them eat a Mediterranean diet for the following five weeks. After that, all the men went on a 20-week weight loss regimen, and then they all went again on a five-week Mediterranean diet plan.
Even if the men didn't lose weight over the course of the study, researchers found that eating the Mediterranean diet was linked with 9 percent lower "bad" cholesterol levels.
Because the findings have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be considered preliminary. However, the Mediterranean diet has been extolled for its heart-healthy benefits multiple times in the past, including in a New England Journal of Medicine study showing that it could lower stroke and other heart risks among high-risk people.
For more foods that could help you lower cholesterol naturally, click through the slideshow: