New study shows olive oil linked to significantly lower mortality
In a new study, scientists have found a strong association between olive oil consumption and lower risk of cardiovascular, cancer, and all-cause mortality.
The study, published in the journal Nutritional Epidemiology, was conducted in Spain, where olive oil consumption is indeed a part of the prevalent Mediterranean diet.
The study included 1,567 adult participants, with an average age of 46, from the Valencia Nutrition Study.
The researchers also controlled for age, sex, educational level, body mass index (BMI), tobacco consumption, total hours of TV watching per day as a proxy for physical activity, and the presence of pre-existing chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
During the follow-up period, 317 deaths were recorded, including 115 due to cardiovascular diseases and 82 due to cancer.
Compared to the baseline level of consuming olive oil less than once per month, the consumption of up to one tablespoon per day was associated with a 9% lower risk of all-cause mortality. The consumption of two or more tablespoons, however, was linked to a much greater reduction in the risk of death: 31% for all-cause mortality, 46% for cardiovascular mortality, and a whopping 51% for cancer.
A Harvard study published earlier this year is especially noteworthy. It was conducted in the US rather than a Mediterranean country with a sample size of over 90,000 and an even longer follow-up period of up to 28 years.
In that study, higher olive oil intake was associated with a 19% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, a 17% lower risk of cancer mortality, a 29% lower risk of neurodegenerative mortality, and an 18% lower risk of respiratory mortality.
Olive oil contains numerous compounds that could potentially explain its health benefits, such as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). It is also rich in the phenolic compounds oleuropein, tyrosol, and hydroxytyrosol, which have been shown to possess antihypertensive, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory qualities. Some studies also suggest that oleic acid, the most abundant MUFA in olive oil, has anti-cancer qualities.