A new study presented at the American Heart Association's Prevention, Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2020 revealed that consumption of olive oil was associated with up to a 7% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
The study shows that replacing a mere five grams of margarine, butter or mayonnaise with the same amount of olive oil was associated with up to a 7% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
Even more remarkable was the fact that people who used even higher olive oil intake -- more than seven grams, or 1/2 tablespoon a day -- had a 15% lower risk of any kind of cardiovascular disease and a 21% lower risk of coronary artery disease.
The take away was REPLACE don't ADD.
The study author Dr. Frank Hu, who chairs the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was quoted to say: "Don't just add olive oil to your regular diet. Substitution is what's important here."
This study reinforced a large 2013 study with over 7000 people. It found people who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil for five years had a 30% lower risk of heart attack or stroke.
Cooking with olive oil
Contrary to what people have been told about the problem of cooking olive oil at high temperatures, a 2018 Australian study which found that EVOO -- extra virgin olive oil -- was actually more chemically stable at high temperatures than other common cooking oils.
Extra virgin olive oil (but not regular olive oil) produced the lowest levels of trans fats and other potentially harmful byproducts when heated to temperatures even higher than those commonly used for sauteing, deep-frying and baking. Coconut oil took second place.
Canola oil was the most unstable, creating over twice as many harmful compounds than extra virgin olive oil and well above the "limits permitted for human consumption," the study found.
Dr. Hu goes on to say that instead of using butter for your bread, dip it in olive oil. Instead of using a store-bought salad dressing, use olive oil and vinegar instead.
"These small changes can have significant health benefits in the long run."