Scientists Reveal Why Olive Oil Is Good for the Heart

By Amy Taylor on February 15, 2017

You know that olive oil is good for your body, especially your heart. But did you know why it is so? According to a Spanish study, a Mediterranean diet tied with olive oil is beneficial to the heart because it helps maintain healthy blood flow and clear debris from arteries. 

For the study, the research team examined data of 296 older adults (66 years on average) who were at risk of cardiovascular disease. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with one litre per week (about 34 fluid ounces) of extra virgin olive oil, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams (1 oz.) of nuts a day, or a low-fat diet. They were asked to follow their respective diets for one year. 

Researchers found better HDL (good cholesterol) functioning in the group assigned to the Mediterranean diet with extra olive oil. 

“Our hypothesis is that these dietary antioxidants may bind to HDL particles and protect them against different kinds of attacks,” said Alvaro Hernáez of the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona. “As HDLs are more protected, they can perform their biological functions more efficiently and, therefore, they are able to remove cholesterol from arteries or contribute to the relaxation of blood vessels for longer.” 

Mediterranean diet typically includes lots of fruits and legumes that are rich in antioxidants as well as plenty of vegetables, whole grains and olive oil. It also tends to favour lean sources of protein like chicken or fish over red meat, which contains more saturated fat. “Our hypothesis is that these dietary antioxidants may bind to HDL particles and protect them against different kinds of attacks,” Hernáez said by email. “As HDLs are more protected, they can perform their biological functions more efficiently and, therefore, they are able to remove cholesterol from arteries or contribute to the relaxation of blood vessels for longer.” 

While previous studies have linked Mediterranean diet to weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease and some cancers, scientists haven’t conclusively proven that the diet itself is responsible, instead of other lifestyle choices made by people who eat this way. Health experts recommend this diet to everyone, especially those who are at risk of heart disease.

Source of this article:

Scientists May Have Figured Out Why Olive Oil Is So Healthy

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