More Than Half A Tablespoon Of Olive Oil Can Improve Heart Health

Olive Oil Over a Salad Bowl

Ranked No. 1 in best overall diets, best plant-based diets, and easiest diets to follow, the Mediterranean diet, it's no secret, is beneficial. While all components are delicious and good for you, researchers from the American Heart Association (AHA) say olive oil might be the key ingredient in heart health. 

During the AHA's Epidemiology and Prevention Meeting, researchers presented study findings, which linked olive oil consumption to reduced heart health risks

Previous studies have made the same association, but they were based in Mediterranean countries, where olive oil is produced and eaten much more frequently. "Our aim was to investigate whether higher olive oil consumption was beneficial to heart health in the U.S. population," said lead author of the study Marta Guasch-Ferre, Ph.D.

What did the researchers find?

Analyzing data from more than 63,000 women and more than 35,000 men who participated in a 24-year-long study, the researchers confirmed the heart health benefits of olive oil, even in the states. 

At the start of the study, participants were all free of chronic diseases, including cancer or heart disease. Researchers followed up every three years to gather updated data on their health and dietary choices. 

Those who ate more than half a tablespoon of olive oil daily were 15% less likely to have any cardiovascular disease and 21% less likely to have coronary heart disease.

Additionally, people who swapped butter, margarine, or mayonnaise with just one teaspoon of olive oil were 5 to 7% less likely to have cardiovascular or coronary heart disease. 

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How does this differ from other oils?

This study compared the cardiovascular benefits of olive oil and other vegetable oils, including corn, canola, safflower, and soybean. While olive oil has the most overall health benefits (like boosting memory and promoting longevity), in terms of heart health, the other plant-based oils had similar results. 

"This means that replacing any type of animal fat with vegetable oils, including olive oil but also others," Guasch-Ferre said, "could be a good strategy to improve cardiovascular health.”

According to Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., RDN, this supports the growing evidence that "diets rich in plant-based foods, including healthier vegetable oils...can significantly benefit heart health."

But keep in mind, not all vegetable oils are as healthy overall. You'll want to make sure your olive oil is of the highest quality and flavor for the most health benefits.

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