Another reason to grab the extra virgin olive oil when cooking veggies, dressing a salad, or dipping crusty bread: Older people who regularly include olive oil in their diet may face a lower risk of stroke, a study published online in the journal Neurology suggests.
The study, which tracked French seniors for five years, found that those who regularly used olive oil were 41% less likely to suffer a stroke versus those who never did. Researchers adjusted for factors like body mass index, physical activity, and diet.
“These results suggest a protective role for high olive oil consumption on the risk of stroke in older subjects,” the study says.
“Intensive users” of olive oil were those people who used olive oil for cooking, as a dressing, or with bread. The study tracked 7,625 adults age 65 and older from three French cities. They had never suffered a stroke. The participants in the study mainly used extra virgin olive oil.
“This is the first study to suggest that greater consumption of olive oil may lower (the) risk of stroke in older subjects, independently of other beneficial foods found in the Mediterranean diet,” study author Cecilia Samieri, with the University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Bordeaux, France, wrote in an email quoted by WebMD.
The Mediterranean diet, by the way, is rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, seafood and olive oil.
So what might be the tie between olive oil and reduced stroke risk?
Several theories exist, Samieri said, telling WebMD it may be people turn to olive oil instead of saturated fats. “Moreover,” she wrote, “previous research found that the polyphenols from virgin olive oil account specifically for its ability to lower oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL)” or bad cholesterol.
However, Samieri said it was too early to issue public health recommendations about the use of olive oil to guard against stroke.
“We need to remember that this is an observational study,” Nikolaos Scarmeas, with Columbia University in New York, told Reuters Health. He warned that while the research showed a correlation between olive oil and stroke risk, that doesn’t ensure there’s a cause-and-effect.
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