Olive Oil May Fight Heart Disease

olive-oilAs this month is National Nutrition Month, we’ve been more than usually aware of the nutrition related headlines that show up in our news feeds. A recent New York Times article caught my attention. It reports on a study published last month in the New England Journal of Medicine about the benefits of a Mediterranean diet in dramatically reducing the risks of heart disease and stroke.  “About 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes and deaths from heart disease can be prevented in people at high risk if they switch to a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, beans, fish, fruits and vegetables….[the] study has found.”

The study is significant for many reasons, but chief among them is that subjects in the study who followed the diet were still ingesting foods that were high in monounsaturated fat such as olive oil and nuts. These subjects fared better than those on low fat diets, bucking traditional wisdom. You may think that this all sounds familiar, and wonder if we haven’t heard this all before. Haven’t health experts been touting the benefits of olive oil for years? Yes, but this is the first study that proved the link between a Mediterranean diet and heart disease.  “Heart disease experts said the study was a triumph because it showed that a diet was powerful in reducing heart disease risk, and it did so using the most rigorous methods.”

“Until now, evidence that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of heart disease was weak, based mostly on studies showing that people from Mediterranean countries seemed to have lower rates of heart disease — a pattern that could have been attributed to factors other than diet.”


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