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Cholesterol Cutter – Virgin Olive Oil

Source: Better Nutrition, August 2002

Cholesterol Cutter – Updates – Virgin Olive Oil 

According to a recent report, adults who consume 25 milliliters–nearly 2 tablespoons–of virgin olive oil daily for just one week have less low-density lipoprotein LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and higher levels of antioxidant compounds, particularly phenols, in their blood. The findings, from a team of researchers at the Department of Food and Nutrition at the University of Barcelona and published in the February 2002 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition may help explain the heart-healthy benefits of the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil. But while all types of olive oil are sources of monounsaturated fat, virgin olive oil also contains higher levels of antioxidants, such as phenols and vitamin E, because it is less processed.

Antioxidants can help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals, by-products of the body’s normal processes that can actually harm body tissues. Studies have shown that LDL cholesterol may be associated with hardening of arteries, which can lead to heart disease. Phenols from other sources, such as onions, tea, coffee, and red wine have been shown to help control cholesterol, but until now, there has been little information specifically about the effect of antioxidants from olive oil on cholesterol.