by Jessica May MS, RD/LD
Q: I’ve heard olive oil is good for cardiovascular health. Is this true?
A: Indeed, olive oil has been found to have heart healthy qualities. In a recent US-Italian study people with mild to moderate heart disease who were provided with 30 mL olive oil a day showed significant improvement in the cells that line their blood vessels. Olive oil has been found to fight inflammation. These healthful properties are mostly due to the monounsaturated fats in olive oil as well as many phenolic compounds which are phytochemicals that help to dilate blood vessels.
When thinking about adding olive oil to your diet, do keep in mind that 30 mL olive oil contains approximately 240 calories. Since olive oil is so calorically dense it’s best to substitute olive oil for fats that you already consume. For instance, add olive oil to bread instead of butter, top salads with olive oil instead of ranch and consider adding olive oil instead of milk or cream to mashed potatoes. Just keep in mind that olive oil is not appropriate for high temperature cooking such as frying due to its low smoke point.
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.