Just a half-tablespoon of olive oil a day may help the heart

Research we're watching

Published: August, 2020

Most of the evidence supporting olive oil as a heart-healthy fat comes from people living in Mediterranean countries, where olives are abundant. On average, Americans don't consume much olive oil. But those who swap in even a little olive oil to replace less healthful fats appear to lower their risk of heart disease, a new study finds.

Researchers relied on health and diet data from nearly 93,000 adults in two studies beginning in 1990. Over the next 24 years, there were nearly 10,000 cases of heart disease in the group. After adjusting for other dietary habits, age, and other heart-related risks, the researchers found that people who consumed at least a half-tablespoon of olive oil a day had a 14% lower risk for heart disease compared with people who used no olive oil.

As the authors note, the benefit likely comes from the fact that people used olive oil in place of less healthy fats, such as butter, mayonnaise, and margarine. Their findings were published in the April 2020 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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