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D.iet & H.ealth : H.eart & B.lood Last Updated: Nov 12th, 2006 - 20:38:00

Virgin olive oil is heart healthy
By Ben Wasserman
Sep 6, 2006, 16:56

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6 Sept. ( - Once again, a new study report says consumption of virgin olive oil reduces risk of heart disease.

The study, reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found people who used virgin olive oil had high levels of good cholesterol in their blood.

This benefit was not found in people who consumed non-virgin olive oil.

Virgin olive oil is characterized by having a high amount of polyphenols and a high percentage of monounsaturated fat. Other types of olive oil have lower amounts of polyphenols. Other plant oils have almost no polyphenols.

The European researchers who conducted the study said it's the plant polyphenols that offer the heart healthy benefits.

Polyphenols are known antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress in the blood and thus reduce the risk of bad cholesterol deposits on the artery walls, which would otherwise cause a hardening and narrowing of the arteries.

The study of 200 healthy young and middle-aged people also found that subjects on the virgin olive oil diet had low levels of markers of oxidative stress. It is unknown if this finding is applicable to older people.

Dr. Maria-Isabel Covas, lead author of the study and colleagues said polyphenols and a high percentage of monosaturated fat make olive oil a good source of fat.

A scientist affiliated with suggested one of the reasons olive oil is superior to many other plant oils is that olive oil is more thermally stable because of its high percentage of monosaturated fat.

In contrast, polyunsaturated fat found abundantly in other plant oils such corn and soybean oil can be decomposed and transformed into other compounds and other types of oils such as trans fat during cooking, imposing a bad effect on the heart.

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