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[WELL OILED] Olive oil intake linked to lower risk of death from chronic conditions

Consuming more than 7 grams (>1/2 tablespoon) of olive oil per day is associated with a lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer, neurodegenerative disease and respiratory disease, according to a study published January 10 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Replacing about 10 grams/day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil is associated with lower risk of mortality, as well.

Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the researchers analyzed more than 60,000 women and close to 32,000 men who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the study baseline in 1990. During 28 years of follow-up, diet was assessed by a questionnaire every four years. The questionnaire asked how often, on average, participants consumed specific foods; types of fats and oils; as well as which brand or type of oils they used for cooking and added at the table in the previous year.

Compared to those who rarely or never consumed olive oil, those in the highest consumption category had a 19% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, 17% lower risk of cancer mortality, 29% lower risk of neurodegenerative mortality and 18% lower risk of respiratory mortality. Substituting 10 grams/day of other fats, such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat, with olive oil was associated with an 8%-34% lower risk of total and cause-specific mortality.

Participants with higher olive oil consumption were often more physically active, had Southern European or Mediterranean ancestry, were less likely to smoke and had a greater consumption of fruits and vegetables compared to those with lower olive oil consumption, the authors noted. Therefore, it's possible that olive oil consumption is a marker of an overall healthier diet and higher socioeconomic status, rather than the cause of the risk reduction.

However, the researchers found that even after adjusting for these and other socio-economic factors, the results remained largely the same. Further study is needed to confirm the results, uncover a particular dose of olive oil that may be protective, and determine if protection is across the board or only for specific subdisorders - for example, for heart attack, but not stroke.

To read the study abstract, click here

 

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