Olive oil could cut risk of heart disease

14 May 2014        

Mediterranean-style meatballs

New research shows extra virgin olive oil can help reduce the chance of heart disease in those at high risk.

The study has 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.

Researchers analysed the effect of a Mediterranean diet on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in more than 7,200 men and women between 55 and 80 years old over an average of five years.

Participants were split randomly into three groups - a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with nuts, and a control group following a low fat diet.

Extra virgin olive oil is a better quality than ordinary olive oil as it contains high levels of antioxidants also found in grape skins, olives and sesame seeds which are thought to benefit the heart. A second study reanalysed the results of the research and found the antioxidants also helped reduce mortality rates.

Victoria Taylor, our Senior Dietitian, said: “These findings reinforce the health benefits of adopting a Mediterranean style diet. However, this study didn’t look at why a higher intake of extra virgin olive oil was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Substances in the oil, other than the fats themselves, could be of benefit to our hearts.

“It’s important to remember that the type of fat you eat isn’t the only factor in relation to a heart-healthy diet. While extra virgin olive oil may have particular benefits, consuming this on top of a generally unhealthy diet is unlikely to make much difference to your health.

“To reap the full benefits you’ll need to make other changes too, like eating more fruit and vegetables and fish and less red meat and sugary, fatty snacks.”