After nearly six years, 148 strokes occurred. But those who used olive oil the most had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke, compared to those who used none. The overall stroke rate was 1.5 percent for the olive oil users compared to 2.6 percent for the others, according to the report.
A second study sample had some contradictory findings, the research noted. Oleic acid was measured in the blood of 1,245 participants. Among that group, 27 strokes occurred, with a 73 percent reduced risk of stroke found in people with higher levels of oleic acid, the study found. But the higher level was also linked to higher consumption of butter and goose or duck fat, which "may explain the unfavorable pattern of risk factors associated with higher plasma oleic acid," according to the findings.
A nutrition expert cautioned that people should not overuse olive oil in an effort to improve health because it is a high-calorie fat.
"The takeaway from the study is that a diet high in olive oil does have a protective benefit, but we need to look further to find out how much is beneficial while still maintaining a low-fat diet," said Heather Davis, a clinical dietitian at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
She said that the American diet is rarely lacking in fat, which is needed for healthy skin and hair, and for processing certain vitamins.
"We need to look further to establish an upper limit," said Davis. While the researchers were unsuccessful in establishing a numerical value for optimal oleic acid, "it's good that the idea is out there," she said.
She said it is important to continue the research. "We know olive oil is beneficial, but it would be advantage
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