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Topic summary contributed by volunteer(s): Emily

There are plenty of mixed feelings about olive oil. Is it good for me? What are the benefits? Is it better than other oils? Should I consume it regularly?

Olive Oil and Artery Function

Olive oil was found to have the same impairment to endothelial function, a predictor of heart disease, as high-fat fast food meals. Extra virgin olive oil has more of a neutral effect on artery function—it neither helps nor hinders artery function—but neither regular olive oil nor extra-virgin olive oil were found to significantly reduce heart attack rates.

Some studies suggest endothelial function improves on a Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, but perhaps that’s because the diet is also rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and walnuts: dietary fruits and vegetables appear to provide some protection against the direct impairment of endothelial function produced by high-fat foods, including olive oil.

Olive Oil:  Regular or Extra Virgin?

If you are going to consume olive oil, choose extra virgin olive oil.  Extra virgin olive oil retains a fraction of the anti-inflammatory phytonutrients found in the olive fruit and doesn’t appear to induce the spike in inflammatory markers caused by regular olive oil.

Healthy Fats: Olive Oil or Nuts?

Instead of turning to oils for your healthy fats, turn to nuts! Eating nuts may lower total cholesterol and may delay the progression of atherosclerosis, the harbinger of future cardiovascular events such as stroke. Remember, whole food is best—whole food sources of plant fat, such as nuts, actually improve artery function, whereas oils, including olive oil, worsen artery function.

Olive Oil and Wrinkles

Olive oil, along with vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, and soy, appears to be protective against skin wrinkling.


Image Credit: Okea / Thinkstock. This image has been modified.

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