Consuming Half a Tablespoon of Olive Oil Per Day Helps Improve Heart Health

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Consuming Half a Tablespoon of Olive Oil Per Day Helps Improve Heart Health

Eating more than half a tablespoon of olive oil daily could lower the risk of a heart attack by 20 percent, say researchers at Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health.

The consequences of a new research showing the benefits of olive oil for improved heart health among a U.S. population were recently presented at an American Heart Association's (AHA) Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Session.

All types of olive oil are a fantastic source of monounsaturated fatty acids, and the total consumption of olive oil was associated with a lower risk of CVD in our study. - Marta Guasch-Ferre, TH Chan School of Public Health

It was the first study to focus specifically on the U.S. population. Previous research on olive oil's heart health benefits had been centered on Mediterranean and European populations.

After analyzing thirty years of data, the research team concluded that eating more than a half tablespoon of olive oil per day could lower the risk of a heart attack by 20 percent, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 15 percent and lower the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) by 21 percent.

Marta Guasch-Ferre, lead author of the study and a nutritional research scientist at Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health told Olive Oil Times that the results came as no great surprise due to increasing evidence that olive oil was connected to a reduced risk of CVD.

We're expecting to find the benefits of olive oil intake . However, the majority of the previous studies showed these associations in Mediterranean and European populations but no previous study has proven the associations in the U.S. population.

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The study also suggests that other vegetable oils may also be beneficial to heart health. "What was fascinating is that while olive oil was much better than animal fat not superior to vegetable oils maybe has to do with the intake amount.

She believes that consumption of other plant oils can become healthy alternatives to animal fats particularly for customers seeking a more affordable choice to olive oil.

During this study, it was not feasible to differentiate between regular olive oil and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Although an earlier study also directed by Guasch-Ferre reasoned that EVOO exerted the many benefits for CVD.

While it is a fact that EVOO varieties have higher amounts of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and other bioactive chemicals, all sorts of olive oil are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, and the total consumption of olive oil was associated with a lower risk of CVD in our study.

She advocated the consumption of half a tablespoon of olive oil per day as a preventative measure. "I believe that olive oil of all types is still a good option when substituting more saturated and animal fats, as revealed in our results.

She cautioned that we also need to consider in terms of what is olive oil replacing. Definitely, olive oil is a healthy option as a dressing, for cooking and baking.

Also, replacing 5g or one teaspoon of butter, mayonnaise or dairy fat with the same amount of olive oil was associated with a 5 percent reduced risk of CVD and 7 percent reduced risk of CHD.

Guasch-Ferre considers that the results encourage increasing calls to replace saturated fat and animal fat with unsaturated plant oils such as olive oil for the prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Although some studies have suggested that olive oil consumption reduces the risk of strokes; this research didn't. Guasch-Ferre believes the anomaly is due to significantly higher levels of olive oil being absorbed in other studies or to the higher levels of polyphenols found in EVOO.

Olive oil has long been associated with improved heart health and was hailed as the smartest heart-healthy oil in a report from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

While this was merely an observational research that doesn't conclusively prove cause and effect, it does support growing evidence that olive oil and some other plant-based oils can be beneficial to heart health.

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  • Neil Naran