Extra virgin olive oil may lower blood pressure, study finds

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In a study from La Trobe University, scientists found high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil could help reduce blood pressure in healthy people.

Extra-virgin olive oil is an essential food of the Mediterranean diet. It retains all the nutrients and antioxidants from the olive fruit.

Extra virgin olive oil is suggested to benefit heart health, partly due to its high phenolic content.

Polyphenols are micronutrients that naturally occur in plants. They’re included in many supplements and are also easy to get from foods like fruits, vegetables, teas, and spices.

In the current study, researchers examined the effect of extra virgin high polyphenol olive oil versus low polyphenol olive oil on blood pressure and arterial stiffness in healthy adults.

The team examined 50 people, who consume 60 mL/day of either high polyphenol olive oil (360 mg/kg polyphenols) or low polyphenol olive oil (86 mg/kg polyphenols) for three weeks.

After a two-week washout period, participants crossed over to consume the alternate oil.

The team tested body shape and size, peripheral blood pressure, central blood pressure and arterial stiffness before and after the study.

Blood pressure taken at the arm is called peripheral blood pressure. Central blood pressure is the pressure in the ascending aorta, just outside the left ventricle.

One method of measuring central blood pressure is with a tonometer, a small instrument shaped like a wand. The tonometer is placed on the skin over the brachial artery in the arm to measure the pulse.

The researchers found in the high polyphenol olive oil group, there was a big decrease in peripheral and central systolic blood pressure by 2.5 mmHg and 2.7 mmHg, respectively.

Neither olive oil consumption changed diastolic blood pressure or measures of arterial stiffness.

Based on the findings, the team concludes that the reductions in systolic blood pressure after high polyphenol olive oil consumption provide evidence for benefits to preventing heart disease in healthy people.

They suggest that longer studies with higher doses of polyphenols in olive oil may help clarify the potential benefits on diastolic blood pressure and arterial stiffness.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about a key contributor to high blood pressure, and your age may determine which blood pressure number matters most.

For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about added sugar in your diet linked to higher blood pressure, and results showing vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

The research was published in Nutrients and conducted by Katerina Sarapis et al.

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