- Replacing butter or margarine with olive oil could significantly reduce your risk of heart disease, says new research from the American Heart Association.
- Consuming more than half a tablespoon per day of olive oil has been linked to a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers found.
- Swapping out just one teaspoon-sized serving of other fats for olive oil could offer benefits.
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There's even more evidence to support reaching for the olive oil no matter what kind of dietary plan you follow. New research, presented March 5 at an American Heart Association conference, shows that replacing other types of fat with olive oil can reduce the risk of cardiovascular illness, particularly coronary heart disease.
Researchers led by Marta Guasch-Ferre, PhD, a research scientist in the nutrition department at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, looked at 63,867 women and 35,512 men in the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1990 to 2014.
They found that consuming moderate amounts of olive oil (more than half a tablespoon) daily was associated with a 15% lower risk of having any kind of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary heart disease. This was true even after accounting for other diet and lifestyle factors.
In additional, replacing a teaspoon-sized serving of butter, margarine, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with olive oil was linked to a 5% lower risk of any cardiovascular disease and 7% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
The study was observational, meaning that it looked for associations and can't be used to determine cause and effect. And a key limitation of the study is that some of it was conducted prior to the ban on trans fats in commercial margarine and other products, so the results may be different for current types of margarine and similar fats.
However, this latest research supports other evidence of olive oil's myriad health benefits.
Olive oil has also been linked to weight loss, lower risk of diabetes, and other benefits
Among experts, olive oil continues to be a favorite healthy unsaturated fat, which is linked to lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol.
Most recently, it's has been linked to better longevity and diabetes prevention in combination with exercise, which is believed to help break down the fatty acids to better release their health benefits.
Olive oil is also a core ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, which is consistently ranked by medical professionals and nutritionists as a top eating strategy for good health.
"Previous studies have linked high consumption of olive oil with better cardiovascular health, particularly in Mediterranean countries where olive oil intake is much higher than in the United States," Guasch-Ferre said in a press release. "Future research is needed to investigate the mechanisms behind this association as well as the effects of other vegetable oils on heart health."
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