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Olive Oil and Your Heart

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Updated February 03, 2014

Olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to heart health and longevity. When you buy a bottle of oil oil, you may notice the label states the following:

Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.

The coronary arteries provide blood to your heart muscle. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil help to keep those arteries clear so your heart can get enough oxygen and nutrients to keep pumping. 

Olive oil is good for your heart and keeps your cholesterol levels healthy, but that's not all it can do. Extra virgin olive oil contains polyphenols that can reduce inflammation and help to prevent some forms of cancer.

Here are some ideas for including more olive oil in your diet:

Store olive oil in a dark, cool spot in a tightly covered container. You can keep olive oil in the refrigerator; however, it will get thick and cloudy. That's OK, the olive oil will return to normal when it stands at room temperature.

Keep in mind that while olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, it's still high in calories. Watch your serving size -- one serving is two tablespoons, and that's all you need per day.

Sources:

Covas MI, Nyyssonen K, Poulsen HE, Kaikkonen J, Zunft HJ, Kiesewetter H, Gaddi A, de la Torre R, Mursu J, Baumler H, Nascetti S, Salonen JT, Fito M, Virtanen J, Marrugat J, EUROLIVE Study Group. "The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial." Ann Intern Med. 2006 Sep 5;145(5):333-41.

United States Food and Drug Administration. "FDA Allows Qualified Health Claim to Decrease Risk of Coronary Heart Disease." Accessed October 5, 2007. http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2004/NEW01129.html."

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