Olive oil use found to lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality

USA – A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology has found that replacing margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat with olive oil was associated with lower mortality risk.  

According to the study, daily use of olive oil lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, cancer mortality, neurodegenerative disease mortality, and respiratory disease mortality. 

The study further determined that replacing about 10 grams/day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil is associated with a lower risk of mortality as well.

 Researchers analyzed the diets of around 90,000 health workers over the course of nearly 30 years and found that those consuming the most olive oil, either in salad dressings, added to food or bread, or used for baking and frying at home, were less likely to die from a number of causes. 

When researchers compared those who rarely or never consumed olive oil, those in the highest consumption category had 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. 

The study also found substituting 10 grams/day of other fats, such as margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy fat, with olive oil was associated with 8-34% lower risk of total and cause-specific mortality.  

They found no significant associations when substituting olive oil for other vegetable oils and noted that it was possible that higher olive oil consumption is a marker of an overall healthier diet and higher socioeconomic status. 

The study however notes that the results are observational and therefore cannot prove that the levels of olive oil caused the lower death figures.  

Participants with higher olive oil consumption were however often more physically active were less likely to smoke and had a greater consumption of fruits and vegetables compared to those with lower olive oil consumption, for example.  

However, it’s believed that olive oil’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties might have played a role.  

“Our findings support current dietary recommendations to increase the intake of olive oil and other unsaturated vegetable oils,” said Marta Guasch-Ferré, PhD, a senior research scientist at the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the study’s lead author.  

“Clinicians should be counseling patients to replace certain fats, such as margarine and butter, with olive oil to improve their health.”  

Guasch-Ferré notes that the study helps make more specific recommendations that will be easier for patients to understand and hopefully implement into their diets. 

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