A new analy­sis of nutri­tion stud­ies voices sup­port for olive oil as a heart-healthy sub­sti­tute for but­ter, while urg­ing con­sumers to avoid coconut and palm oils.

A group of doc­tors and researchers in the U.S. set out to exam­ine the evi­dence behind a slew of claims, fads, diets and trends related to car­dio­vas­cu­lar health. They pub­lished their find­ings in the lat­est issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The evi­dence base for olive oil is the most com­pre­hen­sive, with clear evi­dence for a benefit in car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk reduc­tion.- Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Chief among the find­ings is that oils such as olive and canola are health­ier than hard fats like but­ter and mar­garine. Extra vir­gin olive oil is sin­gled out in the analy­sis as being the smartest heart-healthy choice, given the evi­dence accu­mu­lated in a large num­ber of stud­ies con­ducted on the food.

“The evi­dence base for olive oil is the most com­pre­hen­sive, with clear evi­dence for a benefit in car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk reduc­tion,” the sci­en­tists said.

At the same time, the researchers sug­gest that weight-con­scious con­sumers might want to use olive oil only in mod­er­a­tion, given that it is high in calo­ries.

Coconut and palm oils, by con­trast, come in for spe­cial con­cern. The analy­sis says the pur­ported heart-health ben­e­fits of such oils are unsub­stan­ti­ated and rec­om­mends that con­sumers avoid using them.

“There is a great amount of mis­in­for­ma­tion about nutri­tion fads,” Andrew Freeman, direc­tor of car­dio­vas­cu­lar pre­ven­tion and well­ness in the divi­sion of car­di­ol­ogy at National Jewish Health in Denver and the paper’s lead author, said in a press release. “However, there are a num­ber of dietary pat­terns that have clearly been demon­strated to reduce the risk of many chronic dis­eases, includ­ing coro­nary heart dis­ease.”

The analy­sis sup­ports eat­ing a largely plant-based diet, not­ing that evi­dence sug­gests the con­sump­tion of fruits and leafy green veg­eta­bles pro­mote heart health. But researchers warned that patients who use blood thin­ners should seek a med­ical con­sul­ta­tion to deter­mine what amount of leafy veg­eta­bles are best for them. (The high lev­els of Vitamin K in such veg­eta­bles can affect blood clot­ting.)

The sci­en­tists note that a num­ber of health fads such as juic­ing, gluten-free food and herbal med­ica­tions have not been shown to offer car­dio­vas­cu­lar ben­e­fits.

“A gen­er­ous amount of veg­gies and fruits, a mod­er­ate amount of whole grains and nuts, sup­ple­mented with your favorite pro­tein sources of legumes, fish, poul­try and lean meats, is a heart-smart, healthy eat­ing plan,” Michael Miller, a pro­fes­sor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and a co-author of the review, said in an inter­view with the Washington Post.

The 52,000-member American College of Cardiology says that The Journal of the American College of Cardiology is the most widely read car­dio­vas­cu­lar jour­nal in the world.



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