Moderate intake of olive oil, a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet, was successful in reducing the blood pressure of healthy men who don’t usually eat a Med-type diet, suggests a new study.
The results of the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, are set to keep consumer interest in olive oil high, following other studies linking the diet to lower incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and certain types of cancer.
How the study was done
The researchers behind the new study, led by Isabel Bondia-Pons from University of Barcelona, randomly assigned 110 healthy men from non-Mediterranean countries (Germany, Finland and Denmark) and 45 men from Mediterranean regions (Spain and Italy) to include one of three similar olive oils (25 millilitres per day) in their diets.
The cross-over trial consisted of three three-week intervention periods separated by two two-week wash-out periods.
The researchers report that blood levels of oleic acid increased by two to three percent in the men from the non-Mediterranean countries, while the men from Mediterranean regions did not exhibit a significant increase in blood oleic acid levels. Moreover, at the end of the total nine-week intervention period, the researchers reported that the systolic blood pressure (SBP) of the non-Mediterranean men decreased significantly by three percent, compared to baseline measurements.
“The results of this study suggest that a moderate consumption of olive oil may be used as an effective tool to reduce SBP of healthy men who do not typically consume a Mediterranean diet,” they wrote.
More studies needed
The researchers called for additional studies, particularly with a longer duration, to verify whether small changes or modifications in diet can be made, which would then become habitual.
The results could have implications for people with elevated blood pressure (hypertension). More than 6,3 million South Africans are currently being treated for hypertension. - (Decision News Media, January 2007)
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