Olive Oil_Fact Sheet 02

Scientific Evidence for Olive Oil in the Prevention of Cardiovascular Risk
Factors and Coronary Heart Disease
Olive oil and Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Olive oil and hypertension
The relationship between dietary fats and blood pressure is not definitively answered.
However, evidence suggests that the multiple components of the Mediterranean diet,
i.e. low saturated fatty acids (SFAs), high monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and
carbohydrate, fibre, and micronutrient content have favourable blood pressure
effects, and therefore that this diet is desirable for health. Dietary MUFA may have a
greater protective effect than initially realised.
Olive oil and diabetes
The traditional Mediterranean diet meets all the demands of an adequate diabetes
diet. It contains a lot of vegetables and cereals. Carbohydrates are mainly taken up as
fibre-rich carbohydrates. It has a low SFA content and is rich in MUFA, mainly from
olive oil. The absolute fat content can be varied depending on individual needs.
Clearly it is important for diabetic obese patients to lose weight as well as to adopt a
healthier diet.
Olive oil and obesity
In Western countries we eat twice as much animal fat as is recommended. This can
lead to obesity which is associated with a number of other disease risks. A diet rich in
complex carbohydrates and fibre will protect against obesity. A Mediterranean diet
will provide optimal energy intake and provides a means with which to treat or
prevent obesity.
Olive oil and thrombogenic risk factor
Most studies suggest that for antithrombotic effects a low fat or a vegetable-fat diet is
preferable to a high-fat diet, particularly a high fat diet high in SFAs. The
Mediterranean diet meets these requirements and therefore can be recommended for
the prevention of thrombosis.
Olive Oil and Coronary Heart Disease
Epidemiological Studies
The Seven Countries Study published in 1970 reported on the dietary intake, blood
pressure and cholesterol levels of 13,000 men aged 40-59 years at entry living in
Italy, Greece, the former Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Finland, USA and Japan. CHD
deaths were closely related to age, blood pressure and smoking. Saturated fat intake
and serum cholesterol levels of the populations were significantly correlated at
baseline, 5 and 10 year follow up.
Major differences in the proportions of SFAs and MUFA consumption existed
between the Mediterranean countries, northern Europe and the US. Death rates

Diets similar to those of Mediterranean countries have been investigated in intervention trials and trials where compliance is highly controlled. without adversely affecting HDL cholesterol. Recently it has been shown that intensive lipid-lowering with drugs in men with moderate hypercholesterolaemia and no history of cardiovascular events. legumes  fruit  low to moderate amounts of animal products  olive oil as principal source of fat/high MUFA content  low in SFA  rich in carbohydrate and fibre 2 . However. Most of the studies involved decreasing SFA and increasing polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and they had positive outcomes. bread. antioxidative vitamins). Dietary Recommendations Many national and international guidelines recommend preventive diets similar to the traditional Mediterranean diet. None of the trial diets were particularly high in MUFAs and therefore the typical Mediterranean diet has not been tested for the primary prevention of CHD. Italy and Yugoslavia. Such reductions in cholesterol result in reduced morbidity and mortality. reduces the incidence of heart attack and CHD morality. grain products. Evidence from the Greek island Crete suggested that besides the cholesterol lowering properties of oleic acid (largely from olive oil). high MUFA intake in the US was apparently counteracted by their high SFA intake (i.e. Some Mediterranean countries have retained their eating habits over the past 40 years and still show an advantage in terms of lower CHD mortality compared to western Europe and the US. low MUFA:SFA ratio) and here the CHD mortality was high. vegetables. a high MUFA:SFA ratio): namely. Intervention Studies Many randomised prevention studies have firmly established the links between dietary SFA. without increasing noncardiovascular mortality. other cardioprotective benefits were derived from nutrients and non-nutrients in the Mediterranean diet (e. They suggest the following:  total fat should be reduced to 30% of energy  SFA intake be reduced to below 10%  PUFA intake to be no more than 10% of energy (7-10%)  MUFA intake should constitute 10-15% of energy  dietary cholesterol should be below 300mg/day  intake of complex carbohydrates and fibre should be increased The Mediterranean diet has:  abundance of plant foods.within 15 years were low among the high olive oil consumers where SFA was low (i.g. Greece. These diets efficiently lower serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. serum cholesterol and CHD.e.

including diet. Diets high in MUFAs (mainly from oleic acid) also provide this benefit. There is much evidence that diets low in animal products and SFA are associated with low cholesterol levels and reduced CHD rates. which is achieved through direct effects on risk factors such as hyperlipidaemia. high blood pressure and so forth. 3 . these recommendations can be converted into a tasty and appetising diet.With ingredients like this. is an important management approach in secondary prevention of CHD. Olive oil in secondary prevention of CHD Agressive treatment of all coronary risk factors. but also via directly protective effects like antioxidant activity.