A new analysis of the Nurses Health Study confirms the headline above. Olive oil, of course, is a primary component of the healthy Mediterranean diet. From the American College of Cardiology:
Higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of CHD [coronary heart disease] and total CVD [cardiovascular disease] in two large prospective cohorts of US men and women. The substitution of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat with olive oil could lead to lower risk of CHD.
This study of well-educated health professionals is the first in the United States to show the relative value of higher intake of olive oil for preventing CHD and CVD. It was conducted in the era that margarine was primarily trans fatty acids and would not apply to the present soft and liquid margarines. The benefit attributed to olive oil is not simply the substitution for saturated fatty acid. The modest benefit of olive oil in the United States occurred at relatively low olive oil intake (average 12 g/day). In contrast, the Mediterranean diet generally has over 25 g/day. In European studies, a healthy cohort had a 7% reduction in CHD risk for each 10 g/d increase in olive oil; extra virgin olive oil reduced cerebrovascular events by 31% in a high-risk group, and regular olive oil was associated with a 44% lower risk of CHD after about 7.8 years in Italian women survivors of an MI. Amongst the benefits of olive oil include positive effects on inflammation, endothelial function, hypertension, insulin sensitivity, and diabetes.
Steve Parker, M.D.