Research shows cardioprotective qualities of Australian extra virgin olive oil, La Trobe University
New research shows consuming
extra virgin olive oil every day can significantly reduce blood pressure, which
is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers say the project is significant because it’s the
first Australian study to show a drop in central systolic blood pressure (in
central arteries such as the aorta) and peripheral systolic blood pressure (in
smaller arteries in the arm) linked to olive oil consumption.
The study, led by La Trobe University and published in Nutrients, is also
important because it involved participants from many cultural backgrounds –
showing that Mediterranean heritage is not a factor in benefiting from olive
The researchers led a clinical trial into the
cardioprotective qualities of extra virgin olive oil, produced in Australia, in
50 healthy adults with diverse backgrounds and dietary habits.
They found consuming four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day can reduce central and peripheral systolic blood pressure by 2.5 and 2 percent, respectively.
Lead author and La Trobe Ph.D. candidate Katerina Sarapis said
understanding how olive oil consumption impacts multi-ethnic communities is
“Extra virgin olive oil is rich in a variety of active
compounds such as polyphenols, which have proven health benefits thanks to
their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties,” Ms. Sarapis said.
“This popular oil is widely recognized as a nutritious source
of dietary fat when paired with traditional, Mediterranean style diets from
Greece and Spain. Our study confirms the benefits associated with olive oil
consumption extend to people without Mediterranean heritage but who have
different cultural upbringings, traditions, and food preferences.”
The trial compared the effects of extra virgin olive oil with
refined low polyphenol olive oil.
“We asked participants to add 60 milliliters
– or 4 tablespoons – of either extra virgin or refined olive oil to their daily
diets for three weeks. Following a two-week break where participants could not
eat olive oil or olives, they were then asked to consume the alternative oil,”
Ms. Sarapis said.
The researchers measured blood pressure after each
“The refined, low polyphenol olive oil had no significant impacts on blood pressure,
but the extra virgin olive oil caused a reduction in central and peripheral
systolic blood pressure. This is of clinical importance, as this result was
achieved without the use of any blood pressure medications,” Ms. Sarapis said.
Primary supervisor of the collaborative Ph.D. project, La
Trobe Associate Professor George Moschonis said the study is an important step
forward in heart disease prevention.
“Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death
globally. Our findings provide evidence for a potentially widely accessible
dietary intervention that can reduce cardiovascular risk in populations not
accustomed to high consumption of extra virgin olive oil,” Associate
Professor Moschonis said.
The study was led by La Trobe with collaborating academics
at Swinburne University of Technology, Bond
University, Deakin University, and Murdoch