Harvard Heart Letter

Another day in the sun for olive oil?

For some time olive oil has been touted for its ability to protect the heart. Its popularity may be getting another boost — a study has linked consumption of olive oil with reduced risk of stroke. In the ongoing Three-City Study in France, participants who used olive oil for cooking as well as for dressing salads and sprinkling on grains and vegetables were 41% less likely to have had a stroke over a five-year period as those who rarely or never used olive oil (Neurology, published online June 15, 2011).

Before you rush out to stock up on olive oil, keep in mind that a study like this shows that olive oil and lowered stroke risk are associated. It wasn't a clinical trial, and so can't show that consuming olive oil prevents stroke. It is possible that people who take in more olive oil eat more vegetables and whole grains, or don't consume as much saturated fat, and it's these things that influence stroke risk, not olive oil.

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