When it comes to heart health, virgin olive oil may have an edge over
other vegetable fats, new research suggests.
Reporting in the Annals of Internal Medicine, European researchers
say virgin olive oil may be particularly effective at lowering heart
disease risk because of its high level of antioxidant plant compounds.
In a study of 200 healthy men, the researchers found that virgin
olive oil rich in antioxidants called polyphenols showed stronger
heart-health effects than the more extensively processed "nonvirgin"
The findings suggest that virgin olive oil has more going for it than
its supply of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, according to the study
authors. Polyphenols, they say, may account for some of the health
benefits that have been attributed to the oil.
In fact, virgin olive oil is the only vegetable oil that's rich in
polyphenols, the study's lead researcher Dr. Maria-Isabel Covas said.
Even "ordinary" olive oil has a lower polyphenol content,
she noted, because it's a mixture of virgin olive oil and a more
processed form of the oil.