Olive oil has been discussed quite a bit as a replacement for butter or other hydrogenated oils in cooking. While you may know olive oil is a healthy fat, you might not know that extra virgin olive oil can help your heart stay healthy. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that a recent study has concluded that increased intake levels of extra virgin olive oil can lessen the chance of cardiovascular related health issues(1).
To be clear, it is only extra virgin olive oil that has these particular benefits on heart health. Also, you may be wondering about the difference between extra virgin olive oil and standard olive oil. To begin, extra virgin olive oil is mechanically pressed straight from the olive, while regular olive oil is derived from a combination of refined and virgin oil. Standard olive oil also has less anti-inflammatory components and fewer antioxidants(1).
Furthermore, a recent study proposes that standard olive oil is not as beneficial when it comes to cardiovascular health. To illustrate, the study was composed of 3,071 men and 4,145 women ages 50 to 80 who all had high risk for cardiovascular disease. Even more surprising, all of the subjects who participated in the study had at least 3 of these risk factors (1):
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol
- Low HDL cholesterol
- Family history of cardiovascular disease, and
- Type 2 diabetes.
Over the course of 4 years, the subjects were kept on a strict Mediterranean diet that also included high amounts of nuts or extra virgin olive oil (1).
In addition to helping cardiovascular health, studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil has a host of benefits, including lowering the risk of certain cancers, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, increased protection against stroke, lowering the risk of depression, and guarding against Alzheimer’s (2). Indeed, if you are one of the millions of Americans who has a high risk for cardiovascular disease, the assistance extra virgin olive oil provides with heart health might be of major importance to you.
Yours in good health,