Can Olive Oil Decrease The Risk Cardiovascular Disease in 2021?

What is Cardiovascular Disease?

Cardiovascular disease, often called heart disease, pertains to diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels. Often referred to as a silent killer, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States (1). Over 800,000 Americans have a heart attack each year, with someone having a heart attack every 40 seconds (1). There are a few factors contributing to the high amounts of heart disease in the United States; one of the primary preventable factors being the American diet and lifestyle.

In the United States, it is common to eat a diet high in processed foods, saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar. In addition, less than a quarter of Americans reach the physical activity guidelines for aerobic and muscle strengthening activities, meaning, Americans aren't getting as much physical activity as they should be (2). Something that is important about diet and lifestyle factors is that they are preventable. This means that although some risk factors individuals aren't able to change, like age and family history, some factors we do have the power to change. Working towards eating a healthy diet and getting enough physical activity can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. As for moving towards a healthy pattern of eating, today we will be discussing one component of a healthy diet –– extra virgin olive oil.

Why Extra Virgin Olive Oil?

Extra virgin olive oil has been around for centuries and is known to have some Amazing Health Benefits. It has a long history of being used in civilizations around the Mediterranean sea, such as Greece and Italy. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids. Because of it’s healthy components, it has varying health benefits relating to, but not limited to, diabetes, cancer, and brain health. Today we are going to be focusing extra virgin olive oils effects on cardiovascular disease.

What the research says:

A randomized controlled clinical trial including over 7,000 men and women at high cardiovascular risk, aimed to evaluate the association between intake of olive oil, and extra virgin olive oil with the risk of cardiovascular disease (3). The group consuming the highest amount of olive oil had a 34% lower risk of major cardiovascular events (3). In addition, the results showed that with each increase of 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil consumption, there was a 10% lower risk of cardiovascular events (3). This means that with increased consumption of extra virgin olive oil, there was a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

In a study done of over 90,000 individuals, their diet was assessed at baseline, as well as every 4 years for 24 years, to evaluate the association between olive oil consumption, cardiovascular disease, and coronary heart disease (4). The results showed that the participants who had a higher consumption of olive oil had a 14% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, those with higher olive oil intake also had an 18% lower risk of coronary heart disease.

The research suggests that increasing your consumption of extra virgin Olive Oil can be beneficial for those with high cardiovascular risk, or those wanting to prevent cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.

Main Takeaway:

Along with following a healthy diet and getting in enough physical activity, including extra virgin olive oil in your diet is an easy way to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease.

How to increase extra virgin olive oil consumption:

Now you know why increasing extra virgin olive oil consumption in your diet can be so beneficial in regards to heart health and cardiovascular disease, but you may be wondering how you can actually increase your olive oil consumption. Because extra virgin olive oil is so delicious, it isn't hard to find simple and easy ways to include more of it into your diet. Some of my favorite ways to use extra virgin olive oil are using it to sauté or roast vegetables, mixing it with herbs to use as a glaze for fish and poultry, and drizzling some on top of bread or a fresh green salad. If you are feeling more adventurous in the kitchen, here at Olivaio we have plenty of recipes for you to try!

Here are just a few easy and delicious recipes to try out that can help increase your extra virgin olive oil consumption:

Written by Isabelle Hammack

Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.

Image Credit: pexels.com/@elletakesphotos