olive oil

The Mediterranean diet has gotten a lot of attention, but scientists haven’t known exactly why it works. A new analysis of data from a randomized trial shows why olive oil is so protective.


The PREDIMED trial had three groups of volunteers. One ate a traditional Mediterranean diet that was supplemented with a liter of extra virgin olive oil a week. Another group ate a similar diet supplemented with an ounce of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts daily. The third group ate a prudent low-fat diet. While the low-fat diet lowered LDL and total cholesterol, both Mediterranean diet groups had significantly fewer cardiovascular events. These initial results were published in The New England Journal of Medicine, April 4, 2013.

The Benefits of Olive Oil:

Now scientists have examined blood tests and laboratory findings from those volunteers and discovered how olive oil worked its magic. The participants who ate the olive-oil enriched diet had HDL that worked better. It was more effective at removing LDL cholesterol and keeping it from oxidizing. Their HDL also helped blood vessels relax, an action that lowers blood pressure.

The investigators conclude that a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil improves HDL’s ability to protect the heart and blood vessels.

Hernaez et al, Circulation, Feb. 13, 2017 

If you would like guidance on how to follow a Mediterranean-style diet, you might enjoy our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. It includes details on the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, and a low-carb diet.

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  1. Grace
    Chattanooga TN , & SFlorida

    I saw a list of olive oils which were substandard & /or have additives/ other oils /are not fresh. Even certian ones at Whole Foods
    & other brands thought trustworthy. This was a yr ago perhaps. An you please provide a few reliable properly preserved brands etc?!

  2. Teacher

    Is this Olive oil or extra virgin olive oil or either that this article refers to?

  3. Julie

    How could someone ingest a liter of olive oil a week?

  4. Shirley

    I’m amazed at the amount of olive oil it takes to show a benefit….doesn’t one liter per week equal 1.056 quarts per week? EGAD! who could consume that much? And the calories would make a person blow up like a balloon.

  5. Virginia

    If olive oil is beneficial to our health, what about olives? How does eating olives compare to consuming olive oil?

  6. Andy

    I’m not sure this is a fair comparison, a liter of olive oil vs. 7 ounces of nuts per week. That’s a lot of olive oil. Over 1/2 cup per day. That’s enough calories to turn me into a blimp before too long.

  7. virginia

    I wondered about the 1 L per week that you cite. It seems hugely excessive for one person. This is what I found in an advances.nutrition.org document on the predimed diet: The liter is for the participant in the study AND his/her family: “Those allocated into the corresponding MeDiet groups were given free allocations of EVOO (1 L/wk, including a minimum of 50 mL/d for participants and the rest for family needs).”

    • Terry Graedon

      That is correct. The participants were expected to consume 4 tablespoons of EVOO daily. They were given a liter to make sure they and their families would have enough.

    • Mary

      Thank you for the answer, I had wondered the same thing!

  8. Andrew

    By my calculation, a liter of olive oil a week provides about 1140 calories a day. Is this a typo? This would not leave many calories in one’s daily diet for all other nutrients.

    • Terry Graedon

      It isn’t a typo, but one person didn’t have to consume a whole liter every week. They were asked to consume 4 tablespoons a day and provided a liter to make sure they wouldn’t run out. The whole family got to consume the olive oil.

  9. Cheryl S

    Is there an olive oil pill to help with meeting the recommended ingestion of EV O.O.? Kind of hard to consistently get a Iitre of Ev O.O. into weekly diet without an excess of bread, certain foods, etc to eat it with, if u are not following Med. Diet itself.

  10. Phil

    Recently, several articles online with information about olive oil we may purchase not being real olive oil after all. Since olive oil costs more, how do we know if we are purchasing the real thing?

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