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How having olive oil every day can slash heart and cancer risks

More than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day could reduce the risk of dying from heart disease and cancer.

Olive oil is part of the ‘Mediterranean diet’ consumed in countries like Italy, Spain, France and Greece.

People who eat this way, having lots of vegetables, fruit, fish, nuts and grains as well as the olive oil, are notoriously healthier and live longer.

But a new study of more than 90,000 people suggests olive oil alone could reduce the risk of dying early.

The study participants were asked about their diet every four years, including about olive oil used in salad dressings, added to food or bread, and used for baking or frying at home.

They were followed up for 28 years, during which time 36,856 people died.

More than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day could reduce the risk of dying from heart disease and cancer, a new study has found. Pictured: A Mediterranean diet is often rich in olive oil

Researchers found people who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day were 19 per cent less likely to die from any cause than people who rarely or never had olive oil.

Their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 19 per cent lower and their risk of dying from cancer was 17 per cent lower.

A major advantage of olive oil may be that people use it instead of fatty products like butter and mayonnaise, helping to lower their level of ‘bad’ cholesterol.

When the study looked at the effects of replacing around three-quarters of a tablespoon of butter with olive oil each day, they found this would reduce someone’s risk of an early death by 14 per cent.

Dr Marta Guasch-Ferré, lead author of the study, from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said: ‘Our findings support current dietary recommendations to increase the intake of olive oil and other unsaturated vegetable oils.

‘Clinicians should be counselling patients to replace certain fats, such as margarine and butter, with olive oil to improve their health.’

Researchers found people who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day were 19 per cent less likely to die from any cause than people who rarely or never had olive oil

Researchers found people who consumed more than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day were 19 per cent less likely to die from any cause than people who rarely or never had olive oil

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, shows olive oil may provide benefits even when people have far less of it than is consumed in Mediterranean countries.

Compared to people who rarely or never consumed olive oil, those who had more than half a tablespoon a day were 18 per cent less likely to die from respiratory diseases.

Interestingly, they were also 29 per cent less likely to die from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Extra-virgin olive oil, pressed from ripe olives without high heat or chemical solvents, contains plant compounds which act as antioxidants.

But there is not yet clear evidence it is any better than refined oil to prevent diseases such as cancer and heart problems.

Experts believe olive oil’s effects on health likely come from several properties, including its monounsaturated fatty acids.

When researchers looked at the effects of substituting 10 grams, the equivalent of three-quarters of a tablespoon, of margarine for olive oil, it was found to reduce the odds of dying early by 13 per cent.

The equivalent reduction in risk for mayonnaise was 19 per cent.

People with higher olive oil consumption were often more physically active, and ate more fruits and vegetables compared to those with lower olive oil consumption.

Dr Marta Guasch-Ferré said: ‘It’s possible that higher olive oil consumption is a marker of an overall healthier diet and higher socioeconomic status.

‘However, even after adjusting for these and other social economic status factors, our results remained largely the same.’

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk