Extra virgin olive oil could save lives

By Jamie Salter

An Australian study is being hailed as an important step forward in preventing heart disease — the leading cause of death around the world.

The study led by La Trobe University found consuming extra virgin olive oil every day can significantly reduce blood pressure, a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

The clinical trial investigating the cardio-protective qualities of Australian extra virgin olive oil involved 50 healthy adults with diverse backgrounds and diets.

It found consuming four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day could reduce central and peripheral systolic blood pressure by 2.5 and two per cent, respectively.

Lead author Katerina Sarapis said understanding how olive oil consumption impacted multi-ethnic communities was important.

“Extra virgin olive oil is rich in a variety of active compounds such as polyphenols, which have proven health benefits thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” Ms Sarapis said.

“This popular oil is widely recognised as a nutritious source of dietary fat when paired with traditional Mediterranean-style diets from Greece and Spain.

“Our study confirms the benefits associated with olive oil consumption extends to people without Mediterranean heritage but who have different cultural upbringings, traditions and food preferences.”

The trial compared the effects of extra virgin olive oil with refined low polyphenol olive oil.

The refined low polyphenol olive oil had no significant impacts on blood pressure, but the extra virgin olive oil caused a reduction in central and peripheral systolic blood pressure.

“This is of clinical importance, as this result was achieved without the use of any blood pressure medications,” Ms Sarapis said.

La Trobe University Associate Professor George Moschonis said the study was an important step forward in heart disease prevention.

“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally,” Mr Moschonis said.

“Our findings provide evidence for a potentially widely accessible dietary intervention that can reduce cardiovascular risk in populations not accustomed to a high consumption of extra virgin olive oil.”