What a new study found about olive oil, heart disease, and inflammation

Olive oil is linked to a lower risk of heart disease in the Mediterranean region. Is the same true in the United States, even though we eat far less?

Researchers tracked roughly 93,000 Americans for 24 years. Those who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day had an 18 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who consumed olive oil less than once a month. Blood markers of inflammation were also lower in olive oil eaters.

The risk of heart disease was no lower for olive oil than for other plant oils like soy or canola.

What to do

Replace saturated fats like butter with unsaturated oils. (Second best: tub margarines. Stick margarines are higher in sat fat.) This kind of study can’t prove that olive oil or other unsaturated fats prevents heart attacks, but it fits with clear evidence that unsaturated fats lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Photo: DragonImages.