Article of the month of June by Dr. David Burke

As physiatrists must look to reduce the risk of recurrent vascular disease in a good number of our patients, this study is important in that it serves to further clarify the value of one ingredient of a Mediterranean diet, olive oil.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of global death, thought to be largely preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Early studies have reported an inverse association between the average country level of olive oil consumption and the risk of CVD. This study was designed to better understanding the associations between olive oil intake and the risk of CVD in the U.S. population.

Data were reviewed from two large, prospective studies, the Nurse’s Health Study (nurses 30 to 55 years of age in 1976 (NHSI) or 25 to 42 years of age in 1989 (NHSII)) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (male health professionals 40 to 75 years of age in 1989). The baseline for this study took place in 1990, when olive oil consumption was first included as part of the food frequency questionnaires. Olive oil intake was assigned to one of four categories; never or less than once per month; 2) >0 to #1 teaspoon (>0 to 4.5 g/day); 3) >1 teaspoon to 0.5 tablespoon (>4.5 to 7 g/day); and 4) >0.5 tablespoon (>7 g/day).The primary outcome variable was major CVD, with other outcome variables including total coronary heart disease, total stroke and fatal cardiovascular disease.

Over 24 years of follow-up, 9,797 incident cases of CVD were identified. An adjusted analysis revealed that those in the highest category of olive oil intake (> 0.5 tablespoon per day) had a 14% lower risk of CVD, when compared to those in the lowest category. A pooled, fully adjusted analysis indicated that each five gram per day increase in olive oil consumption was associated with an eight percent lower risk of fatal cardiovascular disease and a four percent lower risk of nonfatal cardiovascular disease.

Guasch-Ferre, M., et al. Olive Oil Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk in U.S. Adults. J Amer Coll Cardiol 2020; 75(15): 1729-1739.