Nutritionists have known for a long time that olive oil helps lower cholesterol because people who live in the Mediterranean region and consume large quantities of olive oil tend to have lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) than people who consume other oils.
However, for a long time, scientists were puzzled by the biological process of how this happens. How does olive oil lower bad cholesterol?
The Scientific Mechanism
First, it is important to understand that cholesterol does not form plaque in your arteries, i.e. atherosclerosis leading to cardiovascular disease, unless the lipoproteins in your blood are oxidized.
Normally, a special type of lipoproteins called LDL transport good cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood to various parts of the body. If, however, these LDL lipoproteins are oxidized, their structure changes and they no longer flow freely in the blood.
In this state, they form LDL cholesterol and can accumulate on the inner wall of your blood vessels causing plaque. Research has now shown that olive oil prevents the oxidization of LDL lipoproteins, and therefore, prevents plaque build-up!
The Synergistic Effect Of Fish Oil and Olive Oil
A new 90 day study, published in June 2015 in the journal, Nutrition, shows how you can lower your cholesterol even more if you combine olive oil with the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil!
102 participates were divided into four groups at the University Hospital of Londrina in Brazil. The control group ate their normal diet.
A second group was given three grams of fish oil in capsule form every day. A third group was given ten milliliters of EVO at lunch and dinner every day. A fourth group was given a combination of EVO and fish oil every day.
LDL cholesterol levels for all four groups was measured at the beginning and at the end of the 90 day study.
While the group receiving the olive oil showed a significantly lower LDL cholesterol level than the control group, an even bigger drop in LDL cholesterol was found in the group that received both olive oil and fish oil!
Thus, it is proven that there is a synergistic cholesterol lowering effect when consuming both spoons of olive oil and capsules of fish oil.
While you could take fish oil capsules and spoons of olive oil every day to lower your cholesterol, it would be more delicious and healthier overall to eat fish in combination with olive oil.
A nice piece of baked salmon or halibut combined with a kale salad dressed with olive olive and fresh lemon juice would be the perfect cholesterol lowering dinner! Now that you know that olive oil helps lower cholesterol, you can plan more of these type of meals to live a longer and happier life.