A study published in August 2015 has found that replacing oils typically consumed in the standard American diet (corn, soybean, etc.) with extra virgin olive oil can improve both heart and immune health.
Vegetable-based oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. In moderation, these fats are heart-healthy; however, the standard American diet boasts an excess of omega-6s, which ends up having a negative effect by increasing the risk of inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
In this study, researchers evaluated the impact of olive oil on the inflammatory and immune responses and cardio-metabolic risk factors of overweight/obese individuals.
In this three-month intervention, 41 participants (aged 65 and older) were divided into two groups: the control group—which was provided with a mixture of corn oil, soybean oil and butter—and the treatment group, which received extra virgin olive oil to use in place of all the other oils in their diet.
Compared to the control group, the olive oil group experienced lower systolic blood pressure, a strong trend toward increased HDL concentrations (the beneficial form of cholesterol) and enhanced immune health.
The researchers concluded, “Our results indicate that substitution of oils used in a typical American diet with extra virgin olive oil in overweight and obese older adults may have cardio-metabolic and immunological health benefits.”
Rozati M, et al. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2015 Aug 7;12:28.