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We’re big fans of olive oil at Clean Eating, and it’s no secret. We love this oil’s endless list of health benefits – from your brain to your bones to your nerves, it’s both protective and helpful – and we can’t get enough of its flavor. Plus, it’s so incredibly versatile, giving you plenty of opportunities to use it in your cooking, baking and even grilling (and, of course, dipping your favorite fresh-baked bread in it!).
Research backs up the many perks of enjoying olive oil. One of the biggest benefits of this do-it-all oil? It’s great for your heart. And now, scientists are finding that olive oil might be even more beneficial for your heart health than previously thought. After you read this, you’re going to want to start reaching for your EVOO every time you step into the kitchen.
Using more olive oil can have a big impact on your heart
While incorporating olive oil into your daily diet is a healthy habit on its own, new research suggests that the impact can be even more beneficial if you’re subbing in EVOO in place of other alternatives.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, eating over 7 grams of olive oil daily may potentially help reduce your risk of mortality in connection with cardiovascular disease. But that’s not all: This good-for-you oil can also help lower the mortality risk associated with cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and respiratory diseases.
The researchers examined data from 60,582 women and 31,801 men starting in 1990. Over the course of 28 years, they conducted follow-ups that assessed the participants’ consumption of specific foods, fats and oils. Researchers calculated each individual’s olive oil intake by adding up three key items: olive oil in salad dressings, olive oil added into food or on bread and olive oil used for baking and cooking. They then compared this to the participants’ vegetable oils, margarine, butter, dairy and other fat consumption.
Overall, the researchers’ findings showed that most participants increased their olive oil intake from about 1.6 grams daily in 1990 to about 4 grams daily in 2010. And the data also demonstrated that those who had higher olive oil consumption had a 19 percent lower risk of cardiovascular mortality compared to those who rarely or never consumed olive oil. Olive oil enthusiasts also saw a 17 percent lower risk of mortality for cancer, an 18 percent lower risk of respiratory mortality and a whopping 29 percent lower risk of mortality for neurodegenerative conditions.
But the benefits didn’t end there. In addition to lowering the mortality for these health concerns and conditions, researchers also found that participants who consumed higher amounts of olive oil were typically more physically active. These individuals also showed a greater consumption of fruits and vegetables, compared to those who took in less olive oil.
Overall, these positive connections can spell great news for keeping your heart as healthy as possible – and lowering your potential risk for cardiovascular disease mortality.
Substituting olive oil for other ingredients can also make a positive difference
While the study’s researchers examined overall olive oil consumption, they also took a look at the potential benefits that came with replacing certain foods with olive oil.
And it turns out that in addition to simply reaping the benefits of upping your daily olive oil intake, you can also see a positive effect when you replace other foods in your diet with this good-for-you oil. Specifically, using olive oil in place of margarine, butter, mayonnaise and dairy-based fats was found to be associated with a lower risk of mortality too.
Researchers found that replacing 10 grams of other fats with olive oil was associated with anywhere from an 8 to 34 percent lower risk of cause-specific mortality. Trading in butter, margarine, mayo and dairy fat for a bit more olive oil helped introduce both heart health benefits and other overall improvements in mortality.
It’s an easy swap to make, too. Trading in just a few servings of butter or mayo and using olive oil instead can help you both increase your overall EVOO intake and make positive changes for your overall health. Plus, don’t forget that researchers saw connections between upping your olive oil consumption and other healthy habits, like an increase in eating fruits and veggies. Subbing in olive oil may potentially help you build other heart-healthy habits at the same time.
How to incorporate more olive oil into your diet
While the study’s researchers acknowledge that more in-depth studies are needed to assess key details of the potential relationship between heart health and olive oil, reaching for EVOO more frequently might just lead to long-term benefits.
And if you’re hoping to both improve your heart health and lower your risk of mortality in connection to cardiovascular disease or other ailments, olive oil is a great place to start. Make this versatile oil a staple in your kitchen, if it isn’t already. You can use it to sauté proteins and veggies, toss veggies in it before roasting or grilling them, or poach seafood in it. Infused olive oils make a great addition to snack spreads and charcuterie boards, giving you a healthy (and super simple!) dip or drizzling sauce. And EVOO makes a great addition to salad dressings, marinades and even baked goods.