According to a new study, using Extra Virgin Olive Oil instead of margarine, butter or other saturated fats may protect you from dying from cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease. This is from a combination of decreasing the amount of saturated fat, and increasing the monosaturated fat found in olive oil. The takeaway from this research is to use olive oil every time you can as a substitute for saturated fats when cooking, in salad dressings, or even on your toast.
The study analysed the diets of people enrolled in two large government funded studies, and then compared the findings to disease and death records for those people over time. Those who replaced just over 2 teaspoons of margarine, butter, mayonnaise or dairy fat with the same amount of olive oil had up to a 34% lower overall risk of dying than people that ate little to no olive oil.
This is the first long-term study including more than 90,000 participants followed for up to 30 years, conducted in the American population on olive oil and mortality. Previous studies were conducted in the Mediterranean and European populations where consumption of olive oil tends to be higher.
The results provide further support for recommendations to replace saturated fat and animal fat with unsaturated plant oils such as olive oil for prevention of premature death.
People who reported eating the highest levels of olive oil had 19% lower risk of dying from heart conditions, a 17% lower risk of dying of cancer, a 29% lower risk of dying for neurodegenerative disease and an 18% lower risk of dying from respiratory disease mortality compared with those who never or rarely consumed olive oil in place of saturated fats.
The study was published in the Journal of American College of Cardiology.
The connection between olive oil and fewer deaths from brain disease was ‘novel’ considering the lack of preventive strategies for alzheimers disease and the high morbidity and mortality related to this disease.
This finding, if confirmed is of great public health importance.
Olive oil is a key staple in the award-winning Mediterranean diet which studies have shown can reduce the risk for diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression and breast cancer. The diet which is ore an eating style than a restricted diet has also been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart and longer life.
While the Mediterranean way of eating is based on traditional foods from 21 countries that surround the Mediterranean sea, it revolves around a fundamental theme. The focus is on simple plant based cooking, featuring fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts and a heavy emphasis on extra virgin olive oil.
Food is not the only focus of the Mediterranean approach which recently topped the 2022 rankings for best diet for the 5th year in a row. It’s actually a lifestyle which also emphasizes movement – walking, biking, gardening as well as mindful eating and the social benefit of dining with friends and family.
An emphasis on healthy behaviours was also found among the men and women who ate the most olive oil in the study. They were more likely to be physically active or eat more fruits and vegetables than those who ate less olive oil. They were also less likely to smoke.
Of note, no scientific evidence supports the notion that eating more olive oil is associated with weight gain. Olive oil could probably increase satiety and fullness, which may potentially reduce the consumption of unhealthy snacks.
For more information : https://www.jacc.org/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jacc.2020.02.036