To this day, heart disease remains one of the leading causes of death in the United States, which is why scientists and doctors work tirelessly to find new ways to combat it.
Many different things, from genetics to lifestyle choices to environmental factors, can play a role in the development of cardiovascular and heart diseases. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, an unhealthy diet, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption are all major risk factors, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You can see that the food we eat on a regular basis plays a role in many of these risk factors. Although there is no “magic” food that can prevent heart disease, scientists are learning about key ingredient swaps that can be made in the kitchen to reduce the risk.
Recent studies have shown that substituting olive oil for butter and other saturated fats in the kitchen is a healthy practice. Check out Best Eating Habits to Have if You’re Over 50 for more healthy eating advice, and read on!
Substituting olive oil for other “unhealthy” fats may have long-term benefits for heart health, including a lower risk of heart disease.
Over 60,000 women and 30,000 men participated in the study, which was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, and it found that those who regularly used olive oil had a lower risk of developing coronary heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders. The study’s authors concluded that substituting olive oil for other fats—like margarine, butter, dairy fats, and mayonnaise—was responsible for the observed reduction in disease risk.
How, exactly, does this change in diet affect your cardiovascular system? A higher intake of saturated fat, for example, has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease due to the way it can affect cholesterol levels. For this reason, the American Heart Association stresses the importance of limiting saturated fat to no more than 6% of daily caloric intake (or around 13 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet).
To put that in perspective, there are about 7 grams of saturated fat in just 1 tablespoon of butter, while there are about 2 grams in just 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
Olive oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can aid in the maintenance of heart and overall health, as reported in a study published in the journal Endocrine, Metabolic&Immune Disorders.
By substituting olive oil for butter, you not only reduce your intake of saturated fat while increasing your intake of healthy fats, but you also provide your heart with beneficial antioxidants. So, do what’s best for your health and make the change.
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