Can olive oil make you “forget to die”? It’s true that people live longer in some regions where they follow the Mediterranean diet, and scientists have studied the benefits of olive oil—specifically extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)—with respect to this phenomenon. “Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, rich in polyphenols,” says Neal Shipley, MD, medical director at Northwell Health-GoHealth Urgent Care in New York. “Polyphenols are known to be a valuable component of a healthful diet, fighting age-related diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease.”
One of the ways to reduce your risk of stroke is to add more olive oil to your diet. “There are many studies to support that regular consumption of extra-virgin olive oil can lower risk of stroke,” Dr. Shipley says. Research from France found that study participants who used olive oil regularly had a 41 percent reduced risk of stroke compare to those who never used it.
Among the other cardiovascular benefits of olive oil are the effect of their monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which can help keep your ticker working well, according to the American Heart Association. “Another recent study was able to demonstrate that olive oil consumption, specifically the extra-virgin variety, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Shipley says. However, you only receive EVOO’s benefits when you replace unhealthy oils or butter with it—not when you add it to what you’re already eating. In case you’re wondering, this is what makes olive oil “extra virgin.”