Study Finds That Consuming Olive Oil Can Cut Your Heart Attack Risk by Almost Half

Your diet plays a greater role in heart health than previously known



Most people know that eating healthy foods can help you stay healthier and happier. Eating certain types of foods can stave off the effects of old age by improving your memory, reducing arthritis, and helping you sleep better at night. But did you know that your diet can reduce your risk of a heart attack too?

Adding foods with fiber and natural antioxidants has long been known to help cardiovascular health, but none are as effective as foods containing oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid that is found naturally in edible oils like olive oil, avocados, nuts, meats, and cheese. Eating a combination of these foods is part of the Mediterranean Diet.

A five-year study published in BMC Med sought to find out if people at high cardiovascular risk could benefit from olive oil intake in their diet.

The results were astonishing. The study showed that people who consumed olive oil and extra virgin olive oil cut their risk of a heart attack by 48 percent.

The results were so promising that the US Food and Drug Administration decided in November 2018 that there was enough evidence to support a qualified health claim that consuming oleic acid edible oils with at least 70 percent of the acid per serving instead of fats and oils containing saturated fat may reduce the risk of heart disease. You don't even have to consume a lot of olive oil, just 1.5 tablespoons or 20 grams a day.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD said in the announcement that before confirming the claim, the FDA assessed several studies that concluded that patients who consumed oleic acid saw lower cholesterol levels, indicating a reduced risk for coronary heart disease by lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), than people who consumed a more western diet.

“Establishing a framework that encourages industry to invest in and convey to consumers the nutritional attributes of their products can support healthier choices for Americans,” Gottlieb said. “Today’s action gets us one step closer to our ultimate goal of improving nutrition and reducing the burden of chronic disease.”

Preventive measures like increasing oleic acid in your diet and reducing other harmful fats seem like a very pain-free way to reduce risk and to improve your heart health naturally.

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