Olive oil consumption has been shown to lower cardiovascular disease risk. However, its associations with total and cause-specific mortality are unclear.
A new study adds evidence to this, suggesting that Consuming high amounts of olive oil may lower the risk of premature death overall and from specific causes, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. It also found that people who consumed olive oil instead of animal fat had a lower risk of total and cause-specific mortality.
This study by scientists from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health is the first long-term observational study on olive oil consumption and mortality.
Marta Guasch-Ferré, a senior research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School, said, “Olive oil consumption has been linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk, but its association with premature death was unclear. Our findings confirm current dietary recommendations to replace animal fats with plant oils for the prevention of chronic diseases and premature death.”
For the study, scientists used health data collected between 1990 and 2018 for 60,582 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and 31,801 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All participants were free of cardiovascular disease or cancer at the beginning of the study and completed dietary questionnaires every four years. During the study period, 36,856 people died.
Participants were asked about their consumption of olive oil. Scientists found that people in the highest category of olive oil consumption had:
- 19 percent lower risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality,
- 17 percent lower risk of cancer mortality,
- 29 percent lower risk of neurodegenerative mortality, and
- 18 percent lower risk of respiratory mortality.
Consuming olive oil was also found to lower the risk of total and cause-specific mortality compared with margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat.
Guasch-Ferré said, “Clinicians should be counseling patients to replace certain fats, such as margarine and butter, with olive oil to improve their health. Our study helps make specific recommendations that will be easy for patients to understand and hopefully implement into their diets.”
- Marta Guasch-Ferré et al. Consumption of Olive Oil and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality Among U.S. Adults. DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2021.10.041