Increased olive oil intake may lower CV risk

Elaine Soliven
11 Apr 2020
Increased olive oil intake may lower CV risk

Increasing olive oil consumption by at least 7 grams per day was associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), particularly coronary heart disease (CHD), according to a study presented at the EPI Lifestyle 2020 Scientific Sessions.

Researchers of this study analysed 63,867 women from the NHS* and 35,512 men from the HPFS** who had no history of heart disease, stroke, or cancer at baseline. Food frequency questionnaires were used to assess their diet at the start of the study and then subsequently every 4 years. [EPI Lifestyle 2020, abstract P509]

Over a median follow-up of 24 years, a total of 10,240 incident cases of CVD were reported, as well as 6,270 CHD and 3,970 stroke cases.

Compared with individuals who did not consume olive oil, those who consumed a higher amount of olive oil (7 grams/day) had a 15 percent lower risk of total CVD (pooled hazard ratio [HR], 0.85, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.77–0.93) and a 21 percent lower risk of CHD (pooled HR, 0.79, 95 percent CI, 0.70–0.89) after adjusting for major diet and lifestyle factors.

Substituting 5 grams/day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with the same amount of olive oil led to 5–7 percent reductions in total CVD and CHD risk. “This means that replacing any type of animal fat with [any type of] vegetable oil … could be a good strategy to improve CV health,” noted lead author Dr Marta Guasch-Ferre from the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, US.

However, the consumption of olive oil appeared to have no impact on the risk of total stroke or ischaemic stroke. 

“Olive oil intake has been associated with a lower risk of cardiometabolic risk factors in Mediterranean populations, but little is known about these associations in the US population, where olive oil intake is relatively low,” said Guasch-Ferre. “[Therefore,] our aim was to investigate whether higher olive oil consumption was beneficial to heart health in the US population.”

“[In this study, we found that] higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of CHD and total CVD in two large prospective cohorts of US men and women,” said Guasch-Ferre. She suggested that future studies should investigate the potential mechanism underlying this association and beneficial effects of other vegetable oils on cardiovascular health.


*NHS: Nurses’ Health Study

**HPFS: Health Professionals Follow-Up Study
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