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October 2022

Olive Oil for the Heart

Olive oil has long been touted for its health benefits. It’s rich in the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, as well as linoleic acid. Help patients understand its benefits, and encourage them to incorporate it into their daily diet, but explain that moderation is key.

Observational research shows that people who use olive oil in the diet over other fats have a modestly reduced risk of developing heart disease. The FDA actually allows for a qualified health claim stating that eating about 2 tablespoons of olive oil daily may reduce heart disease risk. Population research has also shown that it may help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of developing diabetes, and lower the risk for breast cancer. But it doesn’t seem to benefit people who already have heart disease.

While incorporating olive oil into the diet is generally positive, make sure patients don’t go overboard. Olive oil is rich in calories – consuming excess amounts can lead to weight gain. Tell patients to stick to 2 tablespoons (28 grams) daily, and to use it in place of other fats in the diet, but not in addition to them. This includes butter, canola oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil, and animal fats.

Check out our new olive oil monograph to learn more about its effects, including whether it benefits high cholesterol. Also, review our olive monograph to see how the evidence varies between the fruit and its oil.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2023 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.