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Study confirms the value of olive oil for health

First I apologize if this gets too technical.  I usually try to provide information in some hopefully entertaining way but sometimes I have to dig into the details because they are important.

An article in the current New England Journal of Medicine has this article.

Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet Supplemented with Extra-Virgin Olive Oil or Nuts

This demands a bit of background since we are a liver disease group and the report is measuring cardiovascular disease.  There are studies of olive oil and liver disease but generally they are not as long or big as this one and many studies lack the rigor. You should also remember that liver disease is the master of co-morbidity.  It is generally not understood that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death related to cirrhosis.



The study shows that extra virgin olive oil offers significant health benefits. So why do I think this is important? Nearly all of us know that the Mediterranean diet is a good strategy so why highlight this one?

This study focuses specifically on what versions of the Mediterranean diet work best and shows that the best results were found with large quantities of extra virgin olive oil.  It is a 'what is the best of the best' question and it is significant to people with liver disease.

Now, this is the key takeaway.  The diet included 4 tablespoons per day of extra virgin olive oil.  This is only important if your goal is to be as kind to your liver as possible.  It is the amount indicated by liver studies that weren't as robust as this one but came to the same conclusions.

Our problem is that very few American patients will be given this advice.  It is not a common American strategy. The US strategy is to reduce calories but there is little focus on the specifics of fats and oils. When you look at the USDA recommendations, as an example, it recommends little dietary oil and is silent on specific fatty acids to use. This table is a bit hard to read but gives you some detail on the dietary strategy.


I wanted to pass this along because it is common that we find our advice to focus on dietary oils as critical to health is largely dismissed.  Now to be clear, if you are not a liver patient, extreme care with oils is less important but when you are dealing with disease the details matter.  Just as a refresher here is a link to our recommendations.  Not being doctors this is opinion but it is the best we have to offer.