Using olive oil instead of margarine, butter, or other saturated fat may protect you against cancer, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, dementia, and other ailments, a study from Harvard University.
The study analyzed the diets of people enrolled in two large government-funded studies: the Nurses Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
The researchers then compared the results of the diet to the illness and death records of these people over time.
“It’s a combination of reducing the amount of saturated fat while increasing the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil,” said Dr. Howard LeWine, medical editor at Harvard Health Publishing, part of Harvard Medical School.
“The point to remember is to use olive oil whenever you can as a replacement for saturated fat when you cook or in your salad dressings,” said Dr. LeWine, who was not involved in the ‘study.
Men and women who replaced just over two teaspoons (10 grams) of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, or dairy fat with the same amount of olive oil had an overall risk of death up to at 34% lower than people who ate little or no olive oil, according to study author Marta Guasch-Ferre, senior research scientist at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
“This is the first long-term study, including more than 90,000 participants followed for up to 30 years, conducted among the American population on olive oil and mortality,” she said .
“Previous studies have been carried out in Mediterranean and European populations where olive oil consumption tends to be higher.
“Our results provide further support for recommendations to replace saturated fats and animal fats with unsaturated vegetable oils, such as olive oil, for the prevention of premature death.”
People who reported consuming the highest levels of olive oil had a 19% lower risk of dying from heart disease, 17% less risk of dying from cancer, 29% less risk of dying from cancer. ” neurodegenerative disease and 18% risk of dying from respiratory disease in less than a hundred compared to those who never or rarely consumed olive oil instead of saturated fat, said Susanna Larsson, professor associate in epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, in an accompanying editorial.
The study and editorial were published Monday in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
The link between olive oil and fewer deaths from brain disease was “new,” Professor Larsson wrote.
“Considering the lack of preventive strategies for Alzheimer’s disease and the high morbidity and mortality associated with this disease, this finding, if confirmed, is of great importance to public health. “