There’s no doubt that extra virgin olive oil is a rich source of antioxidants and other phytochemicals. It’s also highly likely that the lower rates of coronary artery disease in Mediterranean countries are at least partly due to olive oil consumption. In short, the concept of “extra virgin olive oil heart health” is very real.
There is ample and impressive research evidence which demonstrates that extra virgin olive oil can play a role in promoting cardiovascular health over and above its ability to reduce blood pressure. We know that diets rich in olive oil have been shown to be effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Certainly, extra virgin olive oil is one of the significant constituents that contribute to the cardioprotective ability of the Mediterranean Diet. For example, we know that the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil are potent antioxidants that help protect LDL from oxidation. Moreover, the presence of monounsaturated fatty acids help biologic membranes, like those of our cell walls, better resist oxidative damage. We know that the oxidation of LDL plays a fundamental role in the progress of arteriosclerosis. In one study, when olive oil was added to the diet of healthy males, it significantly reduced the vulnerability of their LDL to oxidative damage.
This doesn’t mean you should go out and drink a cup, or soak warm crusty bread in to eat at every meal. It does contain fat and calories. But in moderation, it’s good for you. Check out more info and a handy guide to EVOO on our SuperFoods page.