A team of Johns Hopkins researchers has discovered when you replace white bread and pasta carbohydrates with unsaturated fat from Mediterranean diet staples such as avocados, olive oil and nuts you can improve heart health even without weight loss. The researchers compared the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and maintain healthy insulin levels while on a carbohydrate-rich diet, a protein-rich diet and a diet rich in unsaturated fats. People whose bodies fail to effectively use insulin usually develop type 2 diabetes, which is a major risk factor for heart disease. A balanced diet higher in unsaturated fats was found to improve insulin use significantly more than a diet high in carbohydrates. "A lot of studies have looked at how the body becomes better at using insulin when you lose weight," said Meghana Gadgil, M.D., M.P.H., a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who will be presenting the research. "We kept the weight stable so we could isolate the effects of the macronutrients. What we found is that you can begin to see a beneficial impact on heart health even before weight loss."