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Prior studies have suggested that plant chemicals in olive oil, known as polyphenols, may help reduce risk factors for heart disease. This study looked at a particular aspect of that protection: the effect of olive oil on blood fats (lipids).
In this study, 200 healthy men were randomly assigned to three, three-week interventions of 25 ml per day of olive oil with low (2.7 mg per kg), medium (164 mg per kg), or high (336 mg per kg) content of olive oil polyphenols. Blood levels of various markers were measured before and after each intervention.
Results showed that, particularly at the higher amounts of polyphenols, participants who ate a little olive oil each day potentially reduced a toxic form of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which may lower their risk of heart and vascular disease.
“Our results provide further support to recommend the use of polyphenol-rich olive oil as a source of fat,” said Olga Castaner and colleagues from the Research Institute Hospital del Mar, Barcelona, Spain.
It is important to point out, however, that it is not clear from studies to date whether the endpoint measured in this study is truly predictive of heart disease risk, and further research is needed to understand the role of olive oil in heart and vascular health.
(Clinical Nutrition 2011;30:490–3)