HealthDay News — Higher olive oil intake is associated with a lower risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) and total cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a study presented at the American Heart Association Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2020 Scientific Sessions, held from March 3 to 6 in Phoenix.

In an effort to find out whether higher olive oil consumption was beneficial to heart health in the U.S. population, Marta Guasch-Ferre, Ph.D., from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined data from 63,867 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and 35,512 men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1990 to 2014). At baseline and every four years, diets were assessed using food frequency questionnaires.

The researchers found that during 24 years of follow-up, there were 10,240 incident cases of CVD, including 6,270 CHD cases and 3,970 stroke cases. Participants with higher olive oil intake (more than 0.5 tablespoons/day) had a lower risk for total CVD (pooled hazard ratio [HR], 0.85) and CHD (pooled HR, 0.79) when adjusting for major diet and lifestyle factors. There were no significant associations seen for total stroke or ischemic stroke. Replacing 5 g of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with an equivalent amount of olive oil is estimated to lower the risk for total CVD and CHD by 5 to 7 percent.

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“One interesting thing our study shows is that although olive oil was better than most animal fats and margarine, it was not superior to vegetable oils in this study population,” Guasch-Ferre said in a statement. “This means that replacing any type of animal fat with vegetable oils, including olive oil but also others, could be a good strategy to improve cardiovascular health.”

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