Health

Olive Oil Keeps the Heart Young

Apr. 7, 2011
By Elena Paravantes

Recent News

A diet rich in olive oil may be able to slow down the aging of the heart. It is a known fact that as we grow older the heart also goes through a normal aging process. The arter­ies may not func­tion as well as they did and this can lead to a number of health prob­lems. However, in a recent study, Spanish researchers from the Lipids and Atherosclerosis Research Unit of the Reina Sofia University Hospital in Cordoba, dis­cov­ered that a diet rich in olive oil or other monoun­sat­u­rated fats could improve the arte­r­ial func­tion of elderly indi­vid­u­als.

The study pub­lished in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, com­pared the effect of a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil with that of a low fat high car­bo­hy­drate diet and a diet rich in sat­u­rated fats and con­cluded that the diet rich in olive oil resulted in the reduc­tion of endothe­lial damage and dys­func­tion. The endothe­lium is a layer of cells that line the inner walls of the arter­ies and help the blood cir­cu­late smoothly.
See more: Olive Oil Health Benefits
When the endothe­lium is dam­aged as occurs with aging, it releases endothe­lial micropar­ti­cles. In this study the researchers mea­sured the number of these micropar­ti­cles as well as another type of cell, which replaces dam­aged endothe­lial cells. The results showed that when healthy elderly par­tic­i­pants fol­lowed the Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, they had a lower number of the dam­ag­ing micropar­ti­cles and higher con­cen­tra­tions of the cells that replace dam­aged endothe­lial cells com­pared with the other two diets.

According to Javier Delgado, one of the prin­ci­pal authors of the study, these mea­sure­ments sug­gest that the endothe­lium of blood ves­sels are less affected by the dete­ri­o­ra­tion asso­ci­ated with age when fol­low­ing a Mediterranean diet that is based on olive oil. “These find­ings are linked to increased pro­tec­tion against future car­dio­vas­cu­lar events”, he added.

Although the study was fairly small — it involved 20 healthy elderly indi­vid­u­als — it is the first to obtain sim­i­lar results asso­ci­at­ing the Mediterranean diet with the cir­cu­la­tory system of the elderly, accord­ing to a state­ment from the hos­pi­tal. However, researchers from the unit of the hos­pi­tal are plan­ning a new larger study with more par­tic­i­pants that will exam­ine the same fac­tors.