New Research Makes Olive Oil One of My Top Heart-Healthy Foods

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Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 04/08/2014

New Research Makes Olive Oil One of My Top Heart-Healthy Foods

I’ve always loved the taste and aroma of olive oil. To me, it’s always been a happy coincidence that olive oil is good for the heart. But now, two exciting new studies have inspired me to put olive oil at the top of the list when it comes to heart-healthy foods.

The first study, published in BMC Genomics (April, 2010), found that olive oil may actually impact gene expression to halt inflammation. As many of you know, inflammation—not cholesterol—is the real risk cause of heart disease. So, this research immediately caught my attention.

For this study, led by Francisco Perez-Jiminez of the University of Cordoba, researchers recruited 20 people with metabolic syndrome—a condition that’s linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and premature death. For six weeks, the participants ate a breakfast that contained olive oil that was either low in phenolic compounds, or one that was high in phenols.

They took blood samples after meals to check for the expression of over 15,000 human genes. What they found is that for those eating the high phenol olive oil 79 genes were suppressed—including the genes linked to inflammation. So, this immediately put olive oil high on my list of heart healthy foods.

Olive Oil Can Also Prevent Heart Attacks & Strokes

The other big news about olive oil and why it’s such a heart-healthy food is that it can help to prevent cardiovascular events. In fact, this recent study called the PrediMed (Prevencion con Dieta Mediterranea) trial which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine is the biggest news yet about olive oil.

For their trial, the researchers selected 7,447 participants without cardiovascular disease who were considered “high risk” for a cardiovascular event in the future. They assigned the participants to one of three groups. One group consumed a liter of extra virgin olive oil weekly. Another ate 30 grams of mixed nuts (almonds walnuts, and hazelnuts) daily. The third group received no special foods, but dietary advice to eat a low-fat diet.

The average follow up time was 4.8 years. What the investigators found is that both the olive oil and mixed nuts group had a 28-30 percent reduction in cardiovascular events, including heart attacks and strokes.

Both Studies Make Olive Oil a Top Heart-Healthy Food

So, if you’re eating a Mediterranean diet, like my PAM program, I recommend kicking it up a notch by adding 30 grams of those mixed nuts, or downing a tablespoon of olive oil three times a day like I do.

In fact, I’ve recently joined a few healthcare practitioners I know who down a tablespoon of a high quality extra virgin olive oil three or four times a day for good health. Several of the people have even found themselves losing weight as they’ve increased their olive oil intake.

But finding the best extra virgin olive oil is important. So, here are some pointers to get you started. Also, stay tuned for additional information on additional Sinatra Smart ways to select and store your olive oil for the best health perks—and your optimum health.

Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite way to eat olive oil?

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