CORDOBA, Spain, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- Spanish scientists say they have located the micronutrients in olive oil that make it a good heart protector.
Mediterranean diets have long been hailed as cutting heart attack risk. A team of Spanish researchers believes this is partly because of compounds called phenols that have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and clot-preventing powers.
Virgin or extra virgin olive oils are best because they have the highest phenol content, a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology says.
In their study, Dr. Juan Ruano and colleagues compared the effect of consuming phenol-rich olive oil, against olive oil with most of its phenol content removed. They tested it on a group of 21 volunteers with high cholesterol, a known heart disease risk factor.
Blood vessel response and function was improved for the first few hours after the high-phenol olive oil meal.
This improvement was associated with increased levels of a molecule called nitric oxide.