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20-30 g of extra virgin olive oil to prevent cardiovascular disease, new studies

Due scientific review based on large cohort studies, they offer scientific evidence on the concrete possibility of preventing cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks and strokes through the daily consumption of 20-30 g of extra virgin olive oil.

The cohort studies based on the two works followed over 150 individuals, overall, on both sides of the Atlantic. To demonstrate how the health benefits of olive oils are also expressed outside the Mediterranean diet.

1) Daily consumption of olive oils and prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the meta-analysis by IMDEA Food

The Research Institute Spanish IMDEA Food he recently published on the Clinical Nutrition Journal a meta-analysis (Donat-Vargas et al., 2021), open access, which examines the correlations between regular olive oil consumption and subclinical atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, risk of total cardiovascular disease (CVD), stroke. (1) The scientific review is based on three cohort studies involving a total of 59.846 individuals.

1.1) Olive oil and subclinical atherosclerosis

The inverse relationship between daily olive oil intake and subclinical atherosclerosis conditions was assessed in the worker health study in Aragon (Aragon Workers Health Study, AWHS). Through:

- administration of questionnaires on cardiovascular risk factors (CDV) and lifestyles to 2.617 workers at the Opel factory in Figueruelas (Zaragoza),

- imaging non-invasive subclinical atherosclerosis in individuals without CDV pathologies, in the age group 39-59 years,

- estimate of the average consumption of olive oils (32,8 + 14,3 g /the total, of which extra virgin and virgin olive oil 20,1 + 20,5 g, olive oil 12,7 + 16,0 g) and correlations.

1.2) Extra virgin olive oil and cardiovascular events

The SUN project (Followed by Universidad de Navarra) instead followed 18.266 individuals aged 18-91, with a follow-up mean of 10,8 ± 4 years. With the aim of identifying possible interactions between eating habits and cardiovascular events.

The data were collected every six months, through semi-quantitative questionnaires on the frequency of consumption of 136 foods. The average intake of olive oils was estimated at 18,5 + 14,9 g /the, without distinguishing the levels of extra virgin and virgin olive oil (the consumption of which has been declared prevalent).

1.3) Cardiovascular events, the EPIC study

A systematic review of cohort EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), included 39.393 participants in the 29-69 age group, in five Spanish regions (Asturias, Granada, Gipuzkoa, Murcia, Navarra), for an average monitoring period of 22,8 years.

The information on habitual food intake, in EPIC, were collected in electronic format by trained personnel, through dietary anamnesis with registration of the quantities of 662 foods and recipes. The average common oil intake was 16,4 + 15,5 g / g and for virgin oil 3.8 + 10,0 g / g.

1.4) Meta-analysis

I ricercators of IMDEA Food organized the statistical analysis of the AWHS, SUN and EPIC studies through two models:

- base. Age, gender, total energy supply,

- advanced. Education level, smoking (if yes, number of cigarettes), physical activity, BMI, alcohol consumption, dietary fiber, prevalence of dyslipidemia / hypercholesterolemia, hypertension and diabetes.

Participants the three studies were then characterized into four categories, based on the daily consumption levels of olive oils (0-10, 10-20, 20-30,> 30 g /the).

1.5) Evaluations and conclusions

La scientific review conducted by IMDEA Food, following the aforementioned analysis, observes an inverse relationship between the regular consumption of olive oil, on the one hand, and the onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and stroke. The maximum benefit is recorded in subjects who consume 20-30 g per day and the greatest protection is obtained with the consumption of extra virgin olive oil, or virgin.

Extra virgin olive oil - as well as the virgin one, whose qualitative parameters are lower (2) - is distinguished from the so-called 'olive oil' as it is obtained exclusively from the mechanical pressing of the olives. The so-called 'olive oil' is instead a blend of virgin oils and refined (or deodorized) oils. Scientific research has shown how the phenolic compounds (eg polyphenols) to which the main health virtues are attributed are present in a higher proportion in organic extra virgin olive oil. (3) Phytocompounds, on the other hand, tend to degrade in refined oils.

2) Replacement of various fats with olive oil and reduction of premature mortality

Another review scientific - conducted in the USA and just published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (Guasch-Ferré et al., 2022) - has in turn found that the substitution of about 10 g /the sources of various fats (margarine, butter, mayonnaise, dairy fats) with an equivalent amount of olive oil are associated with a lower risk of premature mortality from cardiovascular disease (CDV), cancer, neurodegenerative and respiratory diseases. (4)

2.1) Olive oil outside the Mediterranean diet

'Most of the information The health benefits of olive oil has been gathered in studies conducted in Mediterranean populations, and little is known about other geographic locations. The research under review (Guasch-Ferré et al., 2022) reports the results of 3 cohort studies to evaluate olive oil consumption in relation to CVD and partially fills this gap.

This large cohort study on nearly 93.000 individuals and approximately 9.800 CVD accident cases, after 24 years of follow-up, it provides robust evidence of the association between olive oil consumption and cardiovascular disease in a non-Mediterranean country like the United States.

The results show that, compared to participants with the lowest olive oil consumption, those consuming> 0.5 tablespoon / day of olive oil had a 14% lower risk of CVD and an 18% lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD ), thus confirming the results of a recent meta-analysis. ' (5)

2.2) USA scientific review

The USA scientific review (Guasch-Ferré et al., 2022) elaborates the data collected in Nurses' Health Study and in Health Professionals Follow-up Study, out of 60.582 women and 31.801 men who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer in 1990 and were followed up for 28 years through a questionnaire every four years.

Consumption of olive oils not better identified was classified into four categories:

a) never or less than once a month,
b) 0-4,5 g /the (1 teaspoon),
c) 4,5-7 g /the (up to half .),
d)> 7 g /the (over half .). 9 g /the the average consumption of olive oil in this category (5% of the total).

2.3) Reduction of the risks of premature mortality

Risk reduction of premature mortality - between the group of most frequent consumers (group 'd') and that of those who do not consume olive oil (group 'a') it was significant:

- 29% mortality from neurodegenerative diseases,
- 19% mortality from cardiovascular diseases,
- 18% mortality from respiratory causes,
- 17% cancer mortality.

Such benefits have been recorded, it should be noted, in a population group that consumes 7-10 g / g of olive oils that are not better characterized. There Food and Drug Administration (FDA), moreover, already in 2018 confirmed the scientific validity of qualified health claims on the consumption of oils with a high content of oleic acid (> 70%) and the reduction of CHD risks (coronary heart disease). (6)

3) Provisional conclusions

Consumption alone less than a tablespoon of olive oil a day has been shown to be able to significantly reduce the risks of the most serious diseases, even chronic and disabling (NCDs, Non Communicable Diseases). (4)

The consumption of one and a half tablespoons of olive oil - better if extra virgin, even better if organic - is an effective tool for the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of premature mortality everywhere. (1)

Further studies they will be able to confirm how organic extra virgin olive oil is a fundamental safeguard (3) to protect organs and functions of the body, in addition to the immune system. (7) Thanks to the presence and integrity of over 200 phytocompounds that characterize the true natural olive juice.

Dario Dongo, with the collaboration of Isis Consuelo Sanlucar Chirinos


(1) Donat-Vargas C, Sandoval-Insausti H, Peñalvo JL, Moreno Iribas MC, Amiano P, Bes-Rastrollo M, Molina-Montes E, Moreno-Franco B, Agudo A, Mayo CL, Laclaustra M, De La Fuente Arrillaga C, Chirlaque Lopez MD, Sánchez MJ, Martínez-Gonzalez MA, Pilar GC. Olive oil consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Clin Nutr. 2022 Jan; 41 (1): 122-130. doi: 10.1016 / j.clnu.2021.11.002. Epub 2021 Nov 15. PMID: 34872046. Full text accessible on https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(21)00503-3/fulltext

(2) The differences between extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil are mentioned in previous article. See also the article https://www.foodagriculturerequirements.com/archivio-notizie/domande-e-risposte/legge-1407-60-confisca-obbligatoria-per-olio-non-evo-risponde-l-avvocato-dario-dongo

(3) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Organic extra virgin olive oil, organic olives and health. The polyphenols that matter. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 29.6.21, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/olio-extravergine-biologico-olive-bio-e-salute-i-polifenoli-che-contano

(4) Guasch-Ferré, M., et al. (2022). Consumption of Olive Oil and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality Among US Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. doi.org/10.1016/j.jacc.2021.10.041

(5) Ramon Estruch, Rosa M. Lamuela-Raventós, Emilio Ros. (2022). The Bitter Taste of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for a Sweet Long Life. Journal of the American College of Cardiology. doi: 10.1016 / j.jacc.2020.02.043 https://www.jacc.org/doi/full/10.1016/j.jacc.2020.02.043

(6) Dario Dongo. Oleic acid and coronary heart disease prevention, green light in the USA. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 2.12.18, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/acido-oleico-e-prevenzione-malattie-coronariche-via-libera-in-usa

(7) Dario Dongo, Andrea Adelmo Della Penna. Organic food and the immune system, scientific evidence. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade). 11.4.20, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/salute/alimenti-biologici-e-sistema-immunitario-evidenze-scientifiche

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.


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