Thursday, February 28, 2013

It's the olive oil not veggies!

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"Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet" NEJM, February 25, 2013

A total of 7447 persons were enrolled in this Spanish study (age range, 55 to 80 years). Three groups: (1) control diet, (2) Meditteranean Diet with Nuts, and (3) Meditteranean Diet with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Significantly less cardiovascular events and death in group (2) and (3) (P=0.009 and 0.02) but only group (3) showed a noticeable (P=0.11) reduction of death from all causes.

Fig.1 from the Spanish study.

Please notice no reduction of death from all causes in the nuts group!

To me this study is a clear endorsement of the type of fatty acids characteristic of olives, as being unequivocally healthy, while nuts may lower one risk while increase some other.

Why were nuts as good as extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) for cardio but not as good in terms of total death?  Was there some other  cause of death that was positively correlated with nuts (but not with EVOO), which neutralized the benefit of eating nuts for cardio-vascular health?   I am guessing here but it is quite possible that polyunsaturated fat from nuts may have contributed to cancer risk whereas the mono-unsaturated and saturated fats from the olive oil did not!  

See also NYT article.

5 comments:

George Henderson said...

We also have squalene in the olive oil - this is a cholesterol precursor and inhibits HMG-CoA reductase as dietary cholesterol does.

Sam said...

I wonder if it's the omega-3 fatty acid that helps most. Reason I'm asking is I take Flax seed oil. I used to get depressed and found by accident that Fkax seed oil would lift it. Flax seed has the highest level of the omega-3 fatty acid ALA among vegetable oils.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linseed_oil

Reference[17]

Maybe I should try olive oil as an experiment and see if it does the same.

Stan (Heretic) said...

Sam, whatever flax seed oil would do for you, animal sources of omega3 fat will do more and better!

Flax seed is alpha linoleic acid (ALA), animal fats such as fish oil and neural tissues of mammals (spinal cord, brain) contain eicosapentanoic and docosahexanoic acids (EPA,DHA) which human bodies directly need. ALA has to be converted to EPA or DHA to be useful and the conversion rate vary. I saw a study reporting that the conversion rate is the poorest on a low fat diet - I know it probably does not apply to you but I am putting this information for other people who may be reading it.

Among vegetable oils, olive oil is one of the best oils around because it contains relatively less polyunsaturated fats and most mono-unsaturated as well as saturated fat (10%). It has also some other nutrients but animal fats generally beat that!

They contain more saturated fat and more vitamins, especially if you consume them combined with other animal food in natural form (organ meat, poultry skin, egg yolks, pork belly, uncured bacon etc).

JC said...

interesting counter to the concept of a healthy med diet

http://www.jeffnovick.com/RD/Q_%26_As/Entries/2013/3/27_The_Mediterranean_Diet_A_Closer_Look.html

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