Heart Disease

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Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Olive Oil Cuts the Risk for Stroke

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Olive oil jug.The Mediterranean diet fights heart disease, cancer, and inflammation better than any diet out there. It’s what I recommend to my patients, family, and friends, and a way of life that I have fully embraced for years. Olive oil is a cornerstone in this deliciously healthy diet, and a recent study from France gives us all the more reason to enjoy this heart smart fat.

In a study published in the June 15, 2011 issue of the medical journal Neurology, researchers from the University of Bordeaux, in France, studied over 7,500 seniors over the age of 65, with the intention of gaining a greater understanding of the factors that lead to stroke and dementia. Dietary information was gleaned from a baseline survey. After five years of follow-up, those who reported using the most olive oil (typically extra virgin olive oil) had a 41 percent lower likelihood of having suffered a stroke, compared to those who used no olive oil at all.

Of course, olive oil is often enjoyed with other heart healthy foods like salads and cooked vegetables, so it was not entirely clear just how much of the risk reduction could be attributed to the olive oil itself. Nevertheless, other studies have found a strong relationship between olive oil and heart health, including a 2002 study from the University of Navarre, in Spain, which reported an 83 percent relative reduction in heart attack risk for those whose diet included 4 tablespoons of olive oil daily.

Like other fats, olive oil weighs in at 9 calories per gram, or 120 calories per tablespoon, so it’s not a nutritional freebie. But if you substitute olive oil for other, less healthy, fats, you may do your heart and brain a great deal of good.

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Tags: Diet and Heart Health

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About the Author


MD, FACC

Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.

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