Swapping butter and mayo for olive oil could add years to your life, suggests new research.
A study of more than 63,000 women and more than 35,000 men over the course of 24 years found that consuming olive oil poses significant benefits for heart health.
At the start of the study, participants were all free of chronic diseases and heart issues. Researchers checked in on their health and diet every three years.
Those who ate more than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day were 15% less likely to have any cardiovascular disease and 21% less likely to have coronary heart disease
Even consuming a small amount of olive oil a day saw benefits. People who swapped butter, margarine, or mayo with just one teaspoon of olive oil were between 5% and 7% less likely to have cardiovascular or coronary heart disease.
Researchers are keen to emphasise that you shouldn’t just add olive oil to your diet, however. Instead, use it as a substitute for less healthy options such as butter, margarine, or mayonnaise.
Study author Dr Frank Hu said: ‘Don’t just add olive oil to your regular diet. Substitution is what’s important here.
‘The main thing is to replace unhealthy fats with olive oil and that can improve cholesterol, reduce inflammatory biomarkers and improve cardiovascular health,” he said.
This study backs up a load of research that praises the Mediterranean diet – which is rich in olive oil – as the healthiest to follow.
A 2013 study found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil for five years had a 30% lower risk of heart attack or stroke, showed a slower rate of cognitive decline, and were more able to control their weight.
A study from earlier this year declared that the Mediterranean diet is the most effective way to lose weight longterm, while another suggested the diet may lower your risk of depression.
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