The Golden Liquid: The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

This ancient golden liquid holds the key to a healthy heart

Extra virgin olive oil surrounded by Tuscan olives


It’s hard to imagine, but the humble olive can dramatically improve the health of your heart. A study carried out by the University of Glasgow recently featured on BBC’s ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ revealed that regular consumption of olive oil can drastically improve your heart health, especially for those who do not regularly eat a ‘Mediterranean’ diet.

Of course, at Flavours, we are huge fans of the ‘Mediterranean’ diet.  We love the fresh fruit, vegetables and fish of Italy and we are very happy to hear that just 20ml of raw olive oil a day can drastically improve the health of your ticker!

The study

Conducted by Dr Bill Mullen and Dr Emilie Combet at the University of Glasgow, the study found that regular consumption of olive oil recorded over a period of 6 weeks did improve heart health. Measuring the levels of proteins in urine samples, the scientists could see a decrease in the number of certain proteins that are associated with Coronary Artery Disease, Cronic Kidney Disease and Diabetes. 

The study focused on phenolics, the natural compounds found in plants such as olives. Phenolics along with monounsaturated fatty acids are thought to be the beneficial components of olive oil. 70 volunteers took part in the study and half the group were given ‘Extra Virgin’ olive oil and the other, just regular olive oil.  The volunteers did not know which olive oil they were consuming. Each volunteer was asked to take 20ml of olive oil per day (similar to 2 tablespoons) and it had to be raw, i.e. not used in cooking.  Most volunteers drizzled over salads and pasta, with one volunteer stirring the oil into her bowl of porridge every day!

What was surprising about the results apart from improving the health of your heart, was that there was little difference between taking ‘Extra Virgin’ olive oil compared to regular. 

Dr Emilie Combet of the School of Medicine at the University of Glasgow said: “What we found was that regardless of the phenolic content of the oil, there was a positive effect on Coronary Artery Disease scores. In the population studied, any olive oil, low or high in phenolics, seems to be beneficial. The fatty acids are probably the main contributors to the observed effect.  Our study was a supplementation study. If people in the UK replaced part of their fat intake with olive oil, it could have an ever greater effect on reducing the risk of heart disease.

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Flavours Blog

Food, Recipes, Lifestyle and Travel blog – by the Flavours Holidays team.