Blog | Wednesday, August 3, 2011

QD: News Every Day--Olive oil linked to less stroke risk in elderly

More on the Mediterranean diet shows that olive oil is the key component associated with less stroke risk in seniors, a French study found.

Olive oil by trix0r via Flickr and a Creative Commons licenseThe Mediterranean diet has already been linked to better cardiovascular effects, so researchers poured it on to assess its link to stroke. A study of people 65 and older in the French cities of Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier divided 7,625 residents into three categories of olive oil consumption: no use, moderate use for cooking or dressing, or intensive use for both cooking and dressing. Researchers used plasma oleic acid as an indirect biological marker of oleic acid intake from olive oil. (They acknowledged that it could also stem from use of butter and goose or duck fat.) Results appeared in the Aug. 2 issue of Neurology.

In the study, 148 strokes occurred. After adjusting for other variables, lower stroke incidence occurred with higher olive oil use (P for trend=0.02). Compared to those who never used olive oil, those with intensive use had a 41% (95% confidence interval 6% to 63%, P=0.03) lower risk of stroke.

Olive oil has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood lipids and improve oxidative vascular damage and endothelial function, among other benefits. These effects were primarily attributed to oleic acid, but also to phenols found in virgin olive oil, which comprises 98% of the France's olive oil consumption.

But the caveats and limitations--strokes were self reported and researchers couldn't quantify olive oil use--mean that seniors should use olive oil for its flavor, not any purported health benefits. The authors wrote, "The high prevalence of stroke in older subjects emphasizes the need for primary and secondary prevention in this age group. Showing a strong association between intensive olive oil use and lower stroke incidence, our study suggests a novel approach of dietary recommendations to prevent stroke occurrence in elderly populations."