Cardiovascular benefits

Benefici Cardiovascolari
Cardiovascular Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cardiovascular Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil (EVO) is a fundamental component of the Mediterranean diet, known for its numerous health benefits. Among these, the cardiovascular benefits are particularly significant. This report will explore in detail how extra virgin olive oil supports heart health, based on a wide range of scientific studies and epidemiological data.

Composition of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is obtained by cold pressing olives, without the use of chemical solvents or industrial processes. This extraction method preserves the bioactive compounds present in olives, which are responsible for the numerous health benefits. The composition of EVO oil includes:

  • Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA): Mainly oleic acid, which represents approximately 70-80% of the total fat content.
  • Polyphenols: Antioxidant compounds such as oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol and oleocanthal.
  • Vitamins: Vitamin E (tocopherol) and vitamin K.
  • Phytosterols: Compounds that help reduce blood cholesterol levels.

Cardiovascular Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Reduction of LDL Cholesterol: Monounsaturated fatty acids, particularly oleic acid, are effective in reducing LDL cholesterol without lowering HDL cholesterol levels (ISSalute).
  • Anti-inflammatory Effects: Polyphenols such as oleocanthal have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, reducing inflammatory markers in the body and preventing atherosclerosis (Veronesi Foundation).
  • Antioxidant Effects: Antioxidants, in particular vitamin E and polyphenols, protect cells from oxidative damage, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases (Gazzetta del Gusto).
  • Regulation of Blood Pressure: Monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols improve endothelial function, reducing blood pressure and preventing hypertension (Masseria Appia Traiana).
  • Stroke Prevention: A study by the University of Bordeaux has shown that regular consumption of EVOO can reduce the risk of stroke by 41% in the elderly (Veronesi Foundation).
  • Reduction of the Risk of Heart Attack: EVO oil reduces the risk of heart attack thanks to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and hypocholesterolemic effects (Corriere della Sera).
  • Effects on Blood Clotting: EVOO reduces platelet aggregation, a risk factor for thrombosis and heart attack (Masseria Appia Traiana).

Epidemiological and Clinical Studies

  • Moli-sani Study: This study followed almost 23,000 Italian adults for over 12 years, showing that regular consumption of EVOO is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of mortality from cardiovascular diseases and tumors (Veronesi Foundation).
  • PREDIMED Study: Examined the effect of the Mediterranean diet, including the intake of EVOO, on cardiovascular health, demonstrating that a diet rich in EVOO can significantly reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events (ISSalute).
  • Neurology Study: Examined the effect of EVOO on stroke prevention in older adults, finding that regular consumption of EVOO reduces the risk of stroke by 41% (Veronesi Foundation).

Biological mechanisms

  • Effects on Lipids: EVOO modulates lipid metabolism, reducing LDL cholesterol levels and increasing HDL cholesterol levels (ISSalute).
  • Anti-inflammatory effects: The polyphenols in EVOO inhibit the activity of cyclooxygenases (COX), enzymes involved in the production of inflammatory prostaglandins (Veronesi Foundation).
  • Antioxidant Effects: Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress, protecting endothelial cells and preventing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques (Gazzetta del Gusto).
  • Effects on Blood Pressure: EVO oil improves endothelial function and increases the production of nitric oxide (NO), helping to maintain blood pressure within normal limits (Masseria Appia Traiana).
  • Effects on Coagulation: The polyphenols in EVO oil inhibit platelet aggregation and improve blood fluidity, reducing the risk of thrombosis and heart attack (Masseria Appia Traiana).

Consumption Tips

  • Recommended Amount: Guidelines suggest consuming 2 to 4 tablespoons of EVOO per day to achieve maximum health benefits (Greenweez).
  • Quality of the Oil: It is important to choose a high quality EVO oil, rich in polyphenols and with a low content of free fatty acids. Pay attention to the label and choose certified oils (ISSalute).
  • Consumption Method: EVO oil can be consumed raw or cooked. However, it is preferable to consume it raw to preserve its bioactive compounds and maximize health benefits (Viversano).

Conclusions

Extra virgin olive oil is a functional food with numerous benefits for cardiovascular health. Its ability to reduce LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent stroke and heart attack, and improve endothelial function makes it an essential component of a healthy diet. Epidemiological and clinical studies strongly support the inclusion of EVOO in the daily diet to improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

FAQ

What is the recommended amount of extra virgin olive oil per day?

The guidelines suggest consuming 2 to 4 tablespoons of EVOO per day.

What are the main benefits of extra virgin olive oil for cardiovascular health?

EVOO can reduce LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent stroke and heart attack, and improve endothelial function.

Is it better to consume extra virgin olive oil raw or cooked?

It is best consumed raw to preserve its bioactive compounds and maximize health benefits.

How to choose a high quality extra virgin olive oil?

Choose oils rich in polyphenols, with a low content of free fatty acids and certified to guarantee the quality of the product.

References

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