Beneficial Effects of Olive Oil Affirmed

July 22, 2008 Updated: October 24, 2015

Many consumers were confused of late by certain reports that olive oil, a typical ingredient in the Mediterranean diet, is said to be harmful for the blood vessels. One of these reports originated from results of lab experiments at the University of Muenster, where scientists speculated that the acid in olive oil could contribute to hardening of the arteries.

However, experts at the German Heart Foundation want to alleviate consumer's fears. "Such test tube experiments are confronting results of numerous large-scale test populations who participated in scientific studies. Those studies have proven the health benefits of olive oil's properties in Mediterranean cuisine," said Professor Helmut Gohlke, M.D., head of the German Heart Foundation and chief of staff at the heart-center in Bad Krozingen.

Olive oil is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, in addition to much fish and little meat. That this type of diet protects against blood vessel diseases as well as stroke and heart attack has long been established. The micronutrients in olive oil work as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant, thus containing many beneficial properties besides the oil's acid. Another plus in the consumption of olive oil is its monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols that beneficially impact the cholesterol level. This is particularly so with cold-pressed oil that is designated "native olive oil," or "extra virgin olive oil."

"Test tube studies are often a reliable determinant for biological processes, such as digestion and metabolic processes but are unable to become scientific proof of a connection between a substance and a possible risk of a disease-causing agent," commented professor Gohlke. He continued, "Consumers must not be led astray. Olive oil consumption—cold pressed preferred—in conjunction with a Mediterranean diet is still highly recommended to minimize the risk for the development of blood vessel/arterial dilemmas, and to influence their progression positively once they have developed."

This article originally appeared on the Deutsche Herzstiftung website: