The olive oil and the heart health
Is olive oil associated with total cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD) and risk of stroke? This was the question asked by the research team at the Nutrition Department of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. The results of the study were recently published (March 5, 2020) in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The study included 61,181 women from the Health Care Study (1990-2014) and 31,797 men from the Health Care Professionals Study (1990-2014), people who did not have cancer, heart disease or stroke. The diet was evaluated using food questionnaires (130 items) at the beginning of the study and every 4 years, with self-reported risk factors for CVD.
The results of the study showed increases in the average consumption of olive oil, from 1.3 g/day in 1990, to 4.2 g/day in 2010, with a decrease in dietary use of margarines. Over 24 years, there were 9,797 cases of BCV, including 6,034 cases of BC and 3,802 cases of stroke. After adjusting for major food and lifestyle factors, compared to non-consumers, those with a higher intake of olive oil (over 1/2 tablespoon/day or >7 g/day) had a lower risk by 14% for CVD and 18% lower risk of CHD. There were no significant associations for total or ischemic stroke.
Replacing 5 g/day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise or dairy fats, with the equivalent amount of olive oil was associated with a risk lower by 5-7% than total CVD and CHD. No significant associations were observed when the olive oil was compared with other combined vegetable oils. In a subset of participants, a higher intake of olive oil was associated with lower levels of circulating inflammatory biomarkers and a better lipid profile.
The conclusion of the study was that a higher intake of olive oil is associated with a lower risk of CVD and CHD. Replacing margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fats with olive oil could lead to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
This study is the first in the United States to show the relative value of higher intake of olive oil, for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. The study was conducted during a period in which margarine contained mainly trans fatty acids and does not apply to current soft and liquid margarines.
In European studies, a group of healthy subjects had a 7% reduction in BC risk for each 10 g/day increase in olive oil consumption. Specifically, extravirgin olive oil reduced cerebrovascular events by 31% in a high-risk group, and ordinary olive oil was associated with a 44% lower risk of CHD after approximately 7.8 years, in Italian women who have survived a myocardial infarction. The benefits of olive oil include positive effects on inflammation, endothelial function, high blood pressure, insulin sensitivity and diabetes.
We encourage you to use olive oil in your diet in moderate quantities, so that you have control over its calorie count. In addition, we offer you a tool that does this in your place, namely the Dahna application.