Mediterranean Diet With Extra Virgin Olive Oil Can Reduce Heart Disease Risk in Women by 24% Says New Study

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Following Olive Oil Fuelled Mediterranean Diet can boost women’s health.

Updated 12th January 2024

Mediterranean Diet With Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil And The Mediterranean Diet


  • Mediterranean Diet (With Extra Virgin Olive Oil) Linked to 24% Reduction In Heart disease risk among women, says new research.
  • Heart Disease is leading cause of death for women worldwide.
  • Healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil have multiple heart health benefits including improved HDL functions, such as reversing cholesterol transport, providing antioxidant protection, and enabling vasodilation.
  • Recent research also shows The Mediterranean Diet as one of the best for bone and joint health and being family friendly too.


Following a Mediterranean diet can reduce a woman’s risk of heart disease by 24 percent, according to a new Australian study.

New Study Links Extra Virgin Olive Oil Based Mediterranean Diet With Reduced Heart Disease Risk In Women

If you’re a food lover who also prioritizes your health, then you’ve probably heard of the Mediterranean Diet. Known for its abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, extra virgin olive oil, and lean proteins like fish and poultry, this diet has been touted as one of the healthiest ways to eat. And now, a new Australian study has found even more evidence to support this claim – following a Mediterranean diet can significantly reduce a woman’s risk of heart disease by 24 percent.

This is welcome news because heart disease is still the leading cause of death for women worldwide. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details of this study and explore why the Mediterranean diet may be an effective way for women to improve their cardiovascular health. So if you want to learn more about how your food choices can impact your heart health, keep reading!

The Mediterranean diet, which includes seafood, wholegrains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, beans, legumes and extra virgin olive oil has multiple health benefits.

The new study, published in the medical journal Heart, saw scientists collect data from 16 previous studies on women adhering to Mediterranean diets and assessed their cardiovascular disease risk. The data, which covered over 720,000 women whose cardiovascular health was monitored for an average of 12.5 years, produced some significant results.

Academics from the University of Sydney found that women who had a “high adherence” to a Mediterranean diet were 24 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease. According to news agency PA, they were 23 percent less likely to die from any cause during the follow-up period.

Far from being a problem just for men, heart disease is a significant health concern for women too. In the UK alone, coronary heart disease claims the lives of more than twice as many women as breast cancer every year. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the top global cause of death, affecting billions of people worldwide. Now is the time to stay informed and take action to protect your heart health today.

Researchers found The Mediterranean Diet was rated the best overall diet for health, first for bone and joint health and top for being family friendly.

Multiple Health Benefits Of The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet has long been praised for its numerous health benefits, especially when it comes to reducing the risks of heart disease. Recent studies have shown that women who follow this dietary pattern have a significantly lower chance of developing heart-related problems, making it an excellent choice for those looking to improve their overall cardiovascular health. The Mediterranean diet typically involves consuming plenty of nutrient-rich foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil and nuts. This approach to eating emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods and limits red meat, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats, making it a potent tool for women who want to reduce their risk of heart disease and improve their overall well-being.

How to follow a Mediterranean Diet

In order to follow the principles of The Mediterranean Diet, you need to following these basic food choices:

  • seasonally fresh, and grown locally
  • a quality extra virgin olive oil as the principal source of fat
  • cheese and yogurt, consumed daily in low to moderate amounts
  • red meat, consumed infrequently and in small amounts
  • fresh fruit for dessert, with sweets containing added sugars or honey eaten only a few times each week
  • fish and poultry, consumed in low to moderate amounts a few times a week

Want to start following a healthier diet, but not sure where to begin? It’s easier than you think! Begin by making small changes. Swap out basic carbs like white bread and pasta for more nutritious wholegrain options. Boost your intake of veggies, fruits, and legumes while reducing your consumption of red meat. Finally, limit your intake of sugary, ultra-processed snacks and desserts, and replace them with delicious, satisfying options like nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit. These few simple steps will help you transform your diet and reap the benefits of a healthier lifestyle.

Further Studies Linking The Mediterranean Diet to Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Nearly twenty years ago two landmark randomized clinical trials appeared in The Lancet which forever changed the course of medicine for patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). The 4S study employed a cholesterol-lowering statin drug and reported a 30% mortality reduction. The Lyon Diet Heart Study utilized the Mediterranean diet and reported a 70% mortality reduction.

Research reported in Medical News Today in 2017 showed that a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil may boost the cardioprotective effects of “good” cholesterol.

Montserrat Fitó, Ph.D., was the senior author of the new researchTrusted Source and coordinator of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona, Spain, as well as the Ciber of Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition, also in Spain. Fitó and team’s findings were published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

The research team aimed to determine whether eating a Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil or nuts over a long period of time would improve the beneficial properties of HDL in humans.

Fitó and collaborators randomly selected a total of 296 individuals who had a high risk of heart disease and were participating in the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea study. The participants had an average age of 66 and were assigned to one of three diets for a year.

The first diet was a traditional Mediterranean diet enriched with around 4 tablespoons of virgin olive oil per day. The second, a traditional Mediterranean diet supplemented with a fistful of nuts each day. The third diet was a healthful “control” diet that contained a reduced amount of red meat, high-fat dairy products, processed foods, and sweets.

Both Mediterranean diets emphasized the inclusion of fruit, vegetables, legumes (such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, and whole grains), and moderate amounts of fish and poultry.

Blood tests were conducted at the start and end of the study to measure LDL and HDL levels.

Extra Virgin olive oil-enriched Mediterranean diet enhanced HDL function

The researchers found that total and LDL cholesterol levels were only reduced in the healthful control diet. While none of the three diets significantly increased HDL levels, the two Mediterranean diets improved HDL function, and the improvement was more pronounced in the group enriched with extra virgin olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet enriched with virgin olive oil improved HDL functions, such as reversing cholesterol transport, providing antioxidant protection, and enabling vasodilation.

Reverse cholesterol transport is the process in which HDL removes cholesterol from plaque in the arteries and takes it to the liver. Antioxidant protection is the ability of HDL to counteract the oxidation of LDL. Oxidation of LDL triggers the development of plaque in the arteries.

Lastly, vasodilator capacity – which relaxes the blood vessels, keeps them open, and keeps the blood flowing – is improved by the Mediterranean diet with virgin olive oil.

Although the control diet was rich in fruits and vegetables like the two Mediterranean diets, the diet was shown to have an adverse impact on HDL’s anti-inflammatory properties. This negative impact was not observed in the Mediterranean diets. A reduction in HDL’s anti-inflammatory capacity is linked with a greater risk of heart disease.

As expected, the researchers only found slight differences in results between the diets, because the variation between the two Mediterranean diets was modest, and the control diet was healthful.

“Following a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil could protect our cardiovascular health in several ways, including making our ‘good cholesterol’ work in a more complete way.”

Montserrat Fitó

This research could contribute to the development of novel therapeutic targets, such as new antioxidant-rich foods, nutraceuticals, or new drug families that may improve HDL function, conclude the study authors.