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Olive Oil Helps Prevent Strokes

By on June 15, 2011

A new French study of over 7,500 older adults, age 65 and above found that older people who used olive oil in their cooking and on  their salads had a lower risk of suffering a stroke. Conducted over a five-year period, the study found that those who regularly used olive oil were 41 percent less likely to have a stroke than those who never used the oil. Details are in the current journal Neurology, and there’s a strong hint that the well-known connection between olive oil and heart disease may apply to stroke as well.

In fact, clinical trials have suggested that the diet helps control risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, abdominal obesity and elevated levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. High olive oil intake is also linked to a lower risk of heart attack, and a longer lifespan among heart attack survivors. These latest findings support the general advice that people replace dubious dietary fats — namely, saturated fats and “trans” fats — with olive oil and other unsaturated fats, according to an expert not involved in the study. But he also stressed that the study does not prove that olive oil, per se, helps prevent strokes.

“We need to remember that this is an observational study,” said Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, a neurologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York who wrote an editorial published with the study. The study found a correlation between people’s olive oil use and their stroke risk, he told Reuters Health — but that doesn’t necessarily translate into cause-and-effect.

It’s also important to consider that many French older adults likely have a diet somewhat different than the average older American, so results could vary widely if replicated in the United States. But with anything, replacing saturated fats in your diet with olive oil can go a long way in reducing risks associated with heart disease and now maybe stroke. There are enough benefits to outweigh the higher cost of olive oil for sure.

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