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Olive oil might be an easy way to drop stroke risk

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Olive oil and stroke risk

Researchers from the American Academy of Neurology suggest olive oil should be added to dietary recommendation for stroke prevention for older adults, based on new study findings. Olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy means for preventing cardiovascular accidents that are common with aging. In study findings, researchers noted a 41 percent lower stroke risk for those over age 65 who use olive oil regularly in the diet.

How olive oil might prevent stroke not clear

In the study, researchers explored medical records of 7,625 people ages 65 and older from three cities in France who had not had a stroke, classifying them into “no use”, “moderate use” or “intensive use”. The researchers determined intensive use as using olive oil for cooking, as a dressing and on breads.

Compared to those who never use olive oil, stroke risk was 41 percent lower, but researchers aren’t sure exactly why - there were 148 strokes among the 7,625 participants. Higher levels of plasma oleic acid from the oil correlated with lower incidence of stroke.

Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, of Columbia University and a member of the American Academy of Neurology says in an accompanying editorial that it may be a direct benefit of some ingredient in extra virgin olive oil, or if it may simply be that the oil makes healthier foods taste better.

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Author Cécilia Samieri, PhD, with the University of Bordeaux and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) in Bordeaux, France says, “Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older.” Olive oil is a healthy choice that might also prevent obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension, and widely used in the Mediterranean diet that is linked to increased longevity.

A study, published in the October 15, 2010 issue of Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, conducted by Monell researchers in conjunction with scientists from University of Pennsylvania, suggested oleocanthal, found in extra virgin olive oil might, might have pharmacological properties that could protect from Alzheimer’s. Other studies have suggested olive oil might thwart breast cancer.

As far as using olive oil as a stroke prevention aid, Dr. Scarmeas cautions only clinical trials would tell for sure whether the oil really should be considered among dietary guideline recommendations for older adults for preventing stroke.

Neurology: doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318220abeb
"Olive oil consumption, plasma oleic acid, and stroke incidence"
C. Samieri, PhD et al

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