Have you been looking for natural ways to lower your blood pressure? People who manage their blood pressure with medications are less likely to experience cognitive decline (JAMA, May 19, 2020). What’s more, elevated blood pressure raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes (Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 2017). As a result, doctors usually prescribe antihypertensive drugs to help patients control their blood pressure. However, regular exercise and a diet rich in vegetables can be surprisingly effective as well. One reader finds it helpful to take olive oil. Should you?
Should You Take Olive Oil?
Q. A few months ago, I started taking 2 tablespoons daily of a fresh, high-polyphenol extra virgin olive oil. I buy it at a boutique store that specializes in Italian products.
Of all the foods that I’ve tried for lowering my 140/90 blood pressure, this is the only one (besides beet juice) that delivered results. This morning my BP was 120/84!
The taste is tolerable. It burns the back of my throat due to the high phenol count (560 for this bottle), but I think it’s well worth it.
Olive Oil Benefits Not Limited to Monounsaturated Fat:
A. People who follow a Mediterranean diet appear to have better blood pressure control and cardiovascular health (International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Sept. 23, 2019). One important feature of this dietary pattern is the dominant use of olive oil (EVOO) as the primary fat.
In addition to producing a favorable lipid profile, EVOO is rich in plant compounds known as phenols (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Nov. 2002). Significantly, epidemiologists have found that populations consuming higher amounts of these compounds are less likely to have hypertension (European Journal of Nutrition, June 2018).
One review of the effect of EVOO on blood pressure concluded that daily consumption of 2 tablespoons can help control blood pressure. You don’t have to take it straight, like medicine, though. It still works if you use those two tablespoons in your salad dressing or to sauté your vegetables. Thank you for sharing your success story.
What Olive Oil Should You Choose?
Q. I understand that olive oil can reduce the risk for heart disease and cancer. But I do not know what kind to use. My supermarket has a wide variety of products. Which should I choose to get benefits?
A. EVOO contains polyphenol compounds that may contribute to the health benefits it offers as well as to the flavor experienced cooks prize. It is derived from the first pressing of the olives, without heat or solvent chemicals, and must meet specified chemical and sensory standards.
ConsumerLab.com recently reviewed extra virgin olive oil products and recommended three: California Olive Ranch 100% California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lucini Italia Organic Extra Virgin Oilive Oil and Life Extension California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil. You can learn more details by subscribing to ConsumerLab.com.
Selecting Quality Olive Oil:
Q. Recently I read with interest your article about the benefits of consuming olive oil. The amount was very modest, but you did not specify the quality. What were these people using? Did it matter where the olive oil comes from? I do hope you will be able to fill in the details, as I would like to take olive oil for better health.
Furthermore, I am planning to give US-made products for the holidays this year. I’d like to purchase bulk olive oil and fill small bottles as personal gifts for my friends. Can you recommend a bulk olive oil that would offer the benefits you described?
A. In the research we discussed, the quantity of the olive oil was specified (at least 7 grams a day or half a tablespoon). However, the investigators did not address the quality or source. That is probably because their study included almost 100,000 nurses and other health professionals who filled out dietary questionnaires periodically for 28 years (Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Jan. 2022). Those who consumed more olive oil were less likely to die during that time from cancer or cardiovascular, neurodegenerative or respiratory disease.
PREDIMED and EVOO:
A previous study, the PREDIMED trial, compared people following a prudent diet low in fat to those who followed a Mediterranean diet with additional nuts or extra virgin olive oil (New England Journal of Medicine, June 21, 2018). Those consuming extra virgin olive oil had fewer cardiovascular events.
What Is EVOO?
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is unrefined and made from the first pressing of the olive fruit. It contains phenols that give it a distinctive flavor and also have important health benefits (Cells, Feb. 19, 2020).
ConsumerLab.com suggests looking for a quality seal such as the North American Olive Oil Association, the California Olive Oil Council or the USDA Quality Monitoring Program. One of these certifications may help you find a good quality bulk olive oil.
Anyone who would like to learn more about other natural ways to help control hypertension may wish to consult our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions. In addition, you can learn lots more about a Mediterranean diet and how to follow that dietary pattern in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.