|Extra Virgin Olive Oil Beats Olive Oil for Heart Health|
The Mediterranean Diet has recently been discussed as being one of the worlds healthiest diets to eat and one of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean Diet is olive oil. Olive oil has long been recognized for its unusual fat content. Olive oil contains about 75% of its fat in the form of oleic acid (a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid). Olive oil’s monounsaturated fat content (specifically, its high level of oleic acid) has now been determined to be a mechanism linking olive oil intake to decreased blood pressure and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. One of the key polyphenols in olive oil—hydroxytyrosol (HT)—helps protect blood vessels from being damaged by overly reactive oxygen molecules. HT helps protect the blood vessel cells by triggering changes at a genetic level. The genetic changes triggered by HT help the blood vessel cells to enhance their antioxidant defense system. In other words, olive oil supports our blood vessels not only by providing antioxidants like like vitamin E and beta-carotene. Olive oil also provides our blood vessels with unique molecules like HT that actually work at a genetic level to help the cellular walls of the blood vessels remain strong.
Consumers needs to be aware that not all olive oils are the same and according to new research, extra virgin olive oil beats regular olive oil for health benefits. “Extra virgin” olive oil, is named because it is produced by mechanically pressing the olives. It is the olive oil with the best quality, the most intense taste and its acidity is less than 1%. As for common olive oil, it’s obtained from a mixture of virgin and refined oil, which has fewer antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. A new study suggests that extra virgin olive oil really is superior to common olive oil when it comes to helping maintain heart health. The study consisted of 7,216 subjects (3,071 men, 4145 women) participating in the in the study. The subjects were aged 55 to 80 and at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
|Each subject was assigned to one of three groups and followed up for an average or 4.8 years:|
- A Mediterranean Diets supplemented with nuts (amount of supplemented nuts not provided)
- A Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (amount of supplemented extra virgin olive oil not provided)
- Low-fat diet (control group – diet specifics not provided)
After 4.8 years of follow-up, the researchers found that those in the highest 33% of olive oil consumption (56.9 grams/day) had a 35% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those in the lowest 33% of olive oil intake (21.4 g/day). Those in the highest 33% of extra virgin olive oil consumption (34.6 g/day) had a 39% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those in the lowest 33% of extra virgin olive oil intake (9.1 g/day). In addition, every 10 gram/day-increase (1 tablespoon) in extra-virgin olive oil consumption resulted in a 10% risk reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 7% decrease in risk of death from cardiovascular disease (mortality). No significant associations were found for cancer or overall risk of death (called “all-cause mortality”) and no benefits were seen with the nut supplementation. So buyers beware that not all olive oil is created the same, be sure to choose, “extra virgin” olive oil for the healthiest choice.
Abstracted from “Olive oil intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in the PREDIMED Study” in the May 2014 issue of BMC Medicine.
- Ros E: Olive oil and CVD: accruing evidence of a protective effect. Br J Nutr 2012, 108:1931–1933.
- Guasch-Ferre M. Olive oil intake and risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in the PREDIMED Study. BMC Med. 2014 May 13;12:78. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-12-78
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