Healthy-Heart Diet: Olive Oil Health Benefits Revealed

Medically reviewed in November 2022

You already know that olive oil is chock-full of healthy fats. But here's another reason to cook with it: Olive oil might actually help "turn off" genes that could harm your heart.

In a study, eating a healthy-heart diet with lots of polyphenol-rich olive oil helped suppress genes related to heart-damaging inflammation and oxidation. Quite the modern-sounding health benefit for an oil that's been around since the days of Homer.

Mediterranean magic
In fact, olive oil has been a dietary staple in Greek and other cultures for millennia. And it seems those Greeks really have a good thing going with olive oil health benefits. In a study where people ate either olive-oil-infused Mediterranean meals or their regular diet for 3 months, the olive oil group's blood tests suggested better heart health. Specifically, their tests showed fewer markers of inflammation and oxidative damage—thanks in part to a reduced expression of genes that influence these harmful processes.

Oil me up
In addition to being part of a healthy-heart diet, olive oil slowed DNA damage and atherosclerosis in the group. But most of these good-for-your-heart changes were more pronounced in a select group of participants who were given an extra-polyphenol-rich version of olive oil, leading researchers to suspect it's the polyphenols that make olive oil so good for your heart. And the study results help confirm that olive oil is one of the key reasons Mediterranean diets are so good for overall health.

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