Does olive oil make your heart healthy?
The Mediterranean diet is good for your heart!
Countless studies have shown that using olive oil in a 'Mediterranean diet' is good for your heart.
A study reported by the British Heart Foundation on 7,200 people in 2014 found "increasing your extra virgin olive oil consumption by 10g a day could cut your risk of cardiovascular death and heart disease by 10 per cent."
A larger study published in Spain, which ran for 5 years and involved 40,000 people concluded;
"Olive oil was associated with a decreased risk of overall mortality and an important reduction in CVD (Coronary Vascular Disease) mortality in this large Mediterranean cohort. This provides further evidence on the beneficial effects of one of the key Mediterranean dietary components."Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain 2012
5 ways the Mediterranean diet can help your heart
1. Reduce inflammation
Our bodies are exposed to low-grade chronic inflammation continuously and this increases as we get older. They are less and less capable of repairing themselves and fighting disease as a result. Extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidants and contains over 36 phenolic compounds, which gives the oil its peppery flavour. One of these compounds, oleocanthal, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It operates down the same pathways as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and elicits the same response in the body as ibuprofen.
2. Protecting LDL cholesterol from oxidation
You may have heard about bad cholesterol LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and good cholesterol HDL (high-density lipoprotein). However, the worst form is oxidised LDL and here are just a few of the serious effects it can have.
- Damage to beta cells of the pancreas, which are involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and so can lead to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.
- Inflammation of the liver (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)).
- It can cause structural damage to your tendons leading to inflammation and pain. It could be the cause of why tendons like your Achilles aches after exercise.
3. Lowering blood pressure
An Italian 2004 study published in Clinical Nutrition was carried out on patients taking medication for mild to moderate high blood pressure in which they were given either olive oil or sunflower oil for 6 months. Those taking olive oil were able to reduce their medication by on average 50% and some were even able to stop taking it altogether. None of these benefits were seen in the group taking sunflower oil.
4. Improving the lining of blood vessels
A study published in 2012 in Biomedical Research International reported that patients with impaired function of the lining of their blood vessels (endothelium) showed, 'significantly improved endothelial function' when taking olive oil in their diet. This reduced function was associated with inflammation of the endothelial lining and was seen as a predictor of cardiovascular disease in those with a high risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. The olive oil was having an anti-inflammatory effect.
5. Prevent excessive blood clotting
A 2007 Spanish study reported that taking olive oil reduced the concentration of two components involved in blood clotting; factor VII antigen and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1. Excess clotting activity in the blood is associated with vascular disease.