Health Benefits: Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cardio Vascular Disease
We know that traditionally, diets rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) have been associated with a low risk for coronary heart disease (CHD); there was a lower incidence of myocardial infarction (coronary heart attacks) in Southern Europe where olive oil was the main source of fat intake as opposed to Northern Europe where saturated or polyunsaturated fats were more widely consumed (Kris-Etherton, 1999). Olive oil, however, is much more than a MUFA-fat because it contains high amounts of antioxidant phenolic compounds which we know are so beneficial to health. These phenolic compounds are lost when the olive oil is refined. In 2006, a trial of Extra Virgin Olive Oil versus Refined Olive Oil in healthy volunteers showed the EVOO to be better at reducing the lipid oxidative damage, whilst in people who already had stable coronary heart disease, EVOO was more effective at reducing the chemicals in the blood associated with arteriosclerosis¹. More research is needed to be sure that no other dietary components have contributed to this but results were very promising. And a more recent study in 2014² of over 7000 men and women at high risk of cardiovascular disease concluded that olive oil consumption, specifically the extra-virgin variety, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk.