Scientifically Proven Heart Health Benefits of Olive Oil

Olive oil is famous worldwide for the many health benefits it provides. Even though the consumption of dietary fats is quite controversial, health experts generally tend to agree that olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil, is good for us and has many health benefits. Now, new research has shown that adding just half a tablespoon of olive oil to your diet can improve your heart health. Olive oil is well-known for being good for the heart, and extra virgin olive oil has been shown to protect against heart disease in many ways. Here’s all you need to know about how to improve your heart health with half a tablespoon of olive oil.

Many Benefits of Olive Oil

The positive health effects of olive oil, especially extra virgin olive oil, are well-known, and worldwide people have started using olive oil more and more for reaping these health benefits.(1,2,3) Nearly 14 percent of olive oil is made up of saturated fat, while 11 percent is polyunsaturated, which includes both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.(4) Apart from these types of fat, the predominant fatty acid found in olive oil is known as oleic acid, which is a kind of monounsaturated fat and makes up nearly 73 percent of the total oil content.(5,6) Studies have shown that oleic acid helps in lowering inflammation and also has beneficial effects on several genes that are linked to cancer.(7,8,9,10)

Since monounsaturated fats are resistant to high heat, this makes extra virgin olive oil an ideal choice for cooking. At the same time, extra virgin olive oil is highly nutritious, and aside from many beneficial fatty acids, olive oil also contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K.

Olive oil is also rich in antioxidants, which are known to lower the risk of many chronic diseases. (11,12) Antioxidants help fight inflammation in the body and protects the blood cholesterol from oxidation, which also helps reduce the risk of heart disease. (13,14)

Olive oil is also believed to fight Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most commonly occurring neurodegenerative disorders in the world.(15) A study carried out in mice found that a compound found in olive oil can help remove the beta-amyloid plaques, a build-up of which is believed to be a fundamental cause of Alzheimer’s disease.(16) Another human study also found that a diet rich in olive oil helps boost brain function.(17)

Apart from these, olive oil is also known to have antibacterial properties, is known to benefit in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, contain anti-cancer properties, and can also reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.(18,19,20,21)

Scientifically Proven Heart Health Benefits of Olive Oil

New research has shown that adding olive oil to your daily diet can significantly boost your cardiovascular health. Olive oil is one of the Mediterranean diet’s main components, which is known to be one of the healthiest diets in the world.(22)

A study presented at the American Heart Association’s Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions showed that consuming more than half tablespoons of olive oil daily reduces the risk of heart disease by 15 percent, and also lowers the risk of coronary heart disease by 21 percent.(23,24) The research team used long-term data dating back to 1990, and the research was based on an analysis of the US population. It was a first for this type of research study since earlier studies have typically focused on European and Mediterranean populations.

The study also found that animal-based fats such as butter, margarine, mayonnaise, and dairy fat are less healthy than olive oil, especially when it comes to enhancing cardiovascular health. Simultaneously, the study also found that olive oil was not the only oil to contain such heart-healthy benefits.

The researchers also found positive association with other plant-based oils, such as safflower and corn oil, though more research is still needed to affirm the impact of these other plant-based oils on our health. The study did conclude that other vegetable oils can also be potential healthy alternatives to animal fat, especially since these are cheaper than olive oil.

How Does Olive Oil Benefit Heart Health?

According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is today one of the most common cause of death in the world. (25) However, several decades ago, various observational studies found that heart disease was less common in Mediterranean countries, which led to further in-depth research on the Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet has since then been found to dramatically lower the risk of heart disease.(26,27)

When you look at the Mediterranean diet, extra virgin olive oil emerges as one of the primary ingredients of this diet, protecting people against heart disease in various ways.(28)

Extra virgin olive oil helps reduce inflammation and improves the lining of the blood vessels, which improves their functioning, prevents excessive blood clotting, and protects the bad LDL cholesterol in the blood from oxidation.(29,30,31,32,33,34)

At the same time, olive oil also lowers blood pressure, which is known as one of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular disease as well as premature death. In fact, on study even found that regular consumption of olive oil cut down the need for taking blood pressure medication by 48 percent.(35,36,37)

Apart from this, there have been hundreds of studies to show that extra virgin olive oil has many powerful benefits for the heart.

So if you have heart disease or you have a family history of heart disease, then it is a good idea to regularly include extra virgin olive oil in your diet.

Conclusion

Anyone who wants to alter their diets to enhance their heart health, then adopting the Mediterranean diet with generous amounts of extra virgin olive oil is a good starting point. While the study’s findings are observational, more research is still needed to discover how other vegetable oils can benefit heart health. There is a lot of research that already proves the many health benefits of olive oil and therefore, it is better to use olive oil for cooking than other animal fat.

References:

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