(NaturalHealth365) Heart-healthy olive oil is well known for its benefits to the cardiovascular system. A long-time staple of Mediterranean diets, olive oil was shown to reduce the risk of cardio-related deaths in a segment of the Spanish population by as much as 44 percent, according to findings published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
But when it comes to health benefits, not all olive oils are equally beneficial. In fact, if you are consuming the wrong type of olive oil, you could be forfeiting many heart-healthy benefits.
A delicious way to reduce your risk of a heart attack
Historically, olive oil’s ability to reduce the effects of cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses was thought to stem from its high monosaturated fatty acid content. However, more recent evidence indicates the health benefits that really set olive oil apart are more likely due to high levels of micronutrients known as polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
Olive oil polyphenols are known to improve blood lipids and endothelial function. Problems with endothelial function have been associated with cardiovascular disease.
Polyphenols provide a favorable environment for supporting normal blood pressure and artery health. Both are critical factors for reducing the threat of a stroke, heart attack or sudden cardiac-related death.
Science reveals the heart-healthy benefits of olive oil
In the Eurolive Study, designed to assess olive oil benefits, healthy male subjects were put into groups consuming 25 ml of low-, moderate- or high-polyphenol olive oil each day. After just three weeks, those consuming high-polyphenol olive oil, or virgin oil, were found to have lowered levels of oxidized LDL cholesterol by about 3.21 U/L on average.
At the same time, subjects also exhibited increased levels of the beneficial HDL cholesterol. Men consuming the high-polyphenol olive oil saw the greatest increase in HDL cholesterol.
Reduction of oxidized LDL is a critical benchmark since this “bad” cholesterol is linked to such cardiovascular events as heart attack and stroke, even in otherwise healthy individuals. At the same time, the polyphenols in virgin olive oil are known to be most effective in increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol levels.
How do you select the best olive oil?
Since it is a naturally grown product, olive oil varies in its polyphenol content. Among the factors affecting its heart-healthy attributes are growing conditions, age of the olives, processing conditions, soil type and growing temperature, among others.
Extra virgin olive oil should contain the highest beneficial polyphenol levels because it is the first pressing and utilizes the highest-quality olives. The University of California, Davis, tested olive oils available in California to measure levels of beneficial phenolic compounds and olive oil benefits.
Polyphenols make up only 1 to 2 percent of the total components of virgin olive oil. One of the polyphenols found in greatest amounts is known as hydroxytyrosol, known to have significant cardiovascular benefits.
Among the extra virgin olive oils found to contain some of the highest levels of hydroxytyrosol according to the UC Davis study are:
1. Apollo Sierra Organic
3. Yolo Press Tuscan Blend
4. Gaea Antiparos
When choosing an olive oil, select extra virgin olive oil and avoid any refined oils. You can use raw (uncooked) olive oil, on a daily basis, to reap the greatest health benefits. However, even incorporating some olive oil into your cooking can lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Editor’s note: I, personally, use Apollo Olive Oil – “Minstral Organic” – and it’s delicious. Once you taste it – there’s no going back. To learn more – visit: ApolloOliveOil.com (Note: Apollo Olive Oil has given NO financial incentive to me for this endorsement)
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