Wednesday Wisdom. The Benefits of Olive Oil

A new study among Americans shows that replacing just five grams of margarine, butter or mayonnaise with the same amount of olive oil was associated with 30% lower risk of heart attack or stroke when consumed over a course of five years.

Five grams of olive oil is equal to half a pat of butter or margarine and one teaspoon of mayonnaise. The preliminary research was presented at the American Heart Association’s Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions.

Americans who supplemented with extra virgin olive oil and followed Mediterranean diet for five years had a 30% lower risk of heart attack or stroke

The results were similar to an earlier study of   7,000 people, one of the largest ever done by The Harvard School of Public Health. It found people who followed a Mediterranean diet and supplemented with extra virgin olive oil for five years had a 30% lower risk of heart attack or stroke. The same people in the research study also showed a slower rate of cognitive decline and were better able to control their weight.

Replace, don’t add

Dr Frank Hu who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health emphasized that the main thing is to replace unhealthy fats with olive oil which than in turn improve cholesterol, reduce inflammatory biomarkers and improve cardiovascular health.

“Don’t just add olive oil to your regular diet. Substitution is what’s important here.” Dr. Frank Hu Harvard School of Public Health

Cooking with olive oil

Rumors that the “smoke point” or burning point of olive oil would release harmful compounds were proven untrue by a 2018 Australian study which found that EVOO — extra virgin olive oil — was actually more chemically stable at high temperatures than other common cooking oils.

Extra virgin olive oil produced the lowest levels of trans fats and other potentially harmful byproducts when heated to temperatures higher than those commonly used for sauteing, deep-frying and baking. Coconut oil took second place.

America’s favorite canola oil was the most unstable creating more than twice as many harmful compounds than extra virgin olive oil and had well above the limits permitted for human consumption the study found.

Many ways to enjoy olive oil

There are many ways to enjoy olive oil — whether it’s extra virgin or regular olive oil. Olive oil is perfectly suited for “emulsifying” two ingredients together. To create an olive oil based mayonnaise is one example. Salad dressings and vinaigrettes made with olive oil are another example.

Roasting vegetables, salmon and other foods with a sprinkle of olive oil brings out the flavors while still giving these foods their charred effect.

“We’re talking about moderate changes in eating behaviors. Instead of using butter for your bread, dip it in olive oil. Instead of using a store-bought salad dressing, use olive oil and vinegar instead. These small changes can have significant health benefits in the long run.” Dr. Hu

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are renowned and get top honors year after year after year for one of the healthiest diets in the world. The lifestyle rather than a diet consists of lots of veggies and fruit, whole grains, nuts, fish and olive oil all of which have been shown to strengthen bonesimprove brain health and reduce the risk of  cancersdiabeteshigh cholesterol, heart disease and stroke.

People living around the Mediterranean Sea use olive oil as their main source of oil in their diet, cooking and frying .

Source: Olive oil benefits on CNN Health

Mediterranean diet: How to start (and stay on) one of the world’s healthiest diets

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