The Benefits of Olive Oil Consumption for Cardiovascular Health

Olive oil consumption has been shown to have health benefits, especially to lower cardiovascular disease risk, but its associations with total and cause-specific mortality are unclear.

In a recently published study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers evaluated whether olive oil intake is associated with total and cause-specific mortality in 2 prospective cohorts of U.S. men and women.

The research team found that consuming 7 grams (>½ tablespoon) of olive oil per day is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease mortality, cancer mortality, neurodegenerative disease mortality, and respiratory disease mortality. 

They also found that replacing about 10 grams/day of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat with the equivalent amount of olive oil is associated with a lower risk of mortality. 

The study analyzed 60,582 women and 31,801 men from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study that were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at the study baseline in 1990. It was a 28-year follow-up and the diet was assessed by a questionnaire every 4 years. This questionnaire asked how often they consumed specific foods, types of fats, and oils, as well as which brand or type of oils they used for cooking in the previous year. 

Olive oil consumption was calculated from the sum of three items in the questionnaire: olive oil used for salad dressings, olive oil added to food or bread, and olive oil used for baking and frying at home. One tablespoon was equivalent to 13.5 grams of olive oil. The consumption of other vegetable oils was calculated based on the participants’ reported oil brand and type of fat used for cooking at home.

Olive oil consumption was categorized as follows:

  • Never or <1 time per month.
  • >0 to ≤4.5 grams/day (>0 to ≤1 teaspoon).
  • >4.5 to ≤7 grams/day (>1 teaspoon to ≤1/2 tablespoon).
  • >7 grams/day (>1/2 tablespoon).

The study also showed that participants with higher olive oil consumption were often more physically active, had Southern European or Mediterranean ancestry, was less likely to smoke, and had a greater consumption of fruits and vegetables when compared to those with lower olive oil consumption.  

When researchers compared those who rarely or never consumed olive oil, those in the highest consumption category had a 19% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, 17% lower risk of cancer mortality, 29% lower risk of neurodegenerative mortality, and 18% lower risk of respiratory mortality. 


Katie Glenn (2022, Jan 10). Higher Olive Oil Intake Associated with Lower Risk of CVD Mortality. American College of Cardiology. Retrieved from:

Image from:

Photo by Juan Gomez on Unsplash