February is Heart Month so we wanted to shine light on some of the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil as it relates to cardiovascular health. Did you know that heart disease remains the number one cause of death in America? And do you what plays the most critical role in the heart disease epidemic? Our diets. That’s right, the biggest factor in heart health is the food we consume every single day; we’re not talking about those fad diets we partake in from time to time.
When it comes to improving cardiovascular health, many of us have good intentions of getting healthier. “More than half of Americans have tried a diet in the past year to potentially improve the overall health of their heart”, according to a new survey conducted by Cleveland Clinic. Scientists have conducted extensive research that proves the Mediterranean diet is the single diet to improve cardiovascular risk factors.
So why aren’t we all eating according to the Mediterranean diet guidelines? Sadly, the answer is simple, unhealthy diet choices are abundant. Americans are inundated with confusing messages about what is healthy versus unhealthy and convenience foods are more affordable and accessible than ever before. “We told people for years that fat is bad, and it stuck,” Dr. Nissen says. “At some point, everyone gets confused.” The survey conducted at Cleveland Clinic aimed to explore “what Americans know” about eating healthy, in particular, for your heart and waistline. An impressive 28% of respondents still viewed a low-fat diet as the best option for improving heart health. Yet the Mediterranean Diet, which emphasizes a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, and most importantly, extra virgin olive oil, was seen by only 17% of the respondents as the best option for heart health. It appears the decade’s worth of messaging to consumers regarding the “downside of fat” is actually prohibiting the “healthy fats” messaging from resonating with most.
The PREDIMED study found that for people at high cardiovascular risk, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil reduced the occurrence of major cardiovascular events by 30%. During the study, the group was asked to cook with 1 liter of olive oil per week. That’s a lot of fat! When it comes to fat, it’s deciphering healthy fats from the unhealthy ones that’s key. Extra virgin olive oil, a staple in the Mediterranean diet is high in monounsaturated fat, a healthy fat. Monounsaturated fats have shown to reduce cholesterol levels in your blood, a key in lowering your risk of heart disease and stroke. So, spread the good word with your loved ones this February and share some extra virgin olive oil!