Researchers from the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute in Florence, Italy have published a study that claims that women who eat olive oil and leafy vegetables have a lower risk of getting heart disease. The research claims that women who consume at least three tablespoons of olive oil a day are 40 percent less likely to develop heart disease.
In an interview with Reuters Health, the study’s author, Dr. Domenico Palli from the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute, said that it remains unclear how the consumption of olive oil reduces the risk of heart disease. “Probably the
mechanisms responsible for the protective effect of plant-origin foods on
cardiovascular diseases involve micronutrients such as folate, antioxidant
vitamins and potassium, all present in green leafy vegetables,” Palli said.
Palli said that the positive effects on the heart might be due to folate, which lowers the blood levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine, which damages the inner lining of arteries, is said to increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. Palli adds that virgin olive oil, which has high levels of antioxidant plant compounds, is likely to be effective at lowering the risk of heart disease.
The research also found that women who consume at least an ounce of olive oil a day are 44 percent less likely to develop heart disease. The study is not the first to claim a link between olive oil and a reduced risk for heart disease. The Mediterranean diet, an important component of which is olive oil, is said to lower risk the of heart disease as well as cancer and diabetes.
For the study, Dr. Palli and his colleagues collected dietary information from about 30,000 women in Italy. Researchers followed women with a mean age of 50 for an average of eight years. In a report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the researchers reported that subjects experienced 144 major heart disease-related events for the duration of the study. The events include cases of heart attacks and bypass surgery.