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One Major Effect of Eating Olive Oil, Says New Study

Your heart may thank you.
FACT CHECKED BY Cheyenne Buckingham

You may know that high-density lipoproteins (HDL), commonly known as the good kind of cholesterol, can keep your cells healthy. If you're a bit of a health nerd, you may also know that some foods can affect your body's HDL levels—olive oil, for one, is rich in healthy fats that may have a positive effect on your HDL levels, so go ahead and add another tablespoon of pesto sauce.

Now, there's even more good news for olive oil lovers (which, let's be honest, is all of us). According to the American Heart Association (AHA), HDL can fight inflammation, which could potentially protect us against dangerous cardiac events.

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The study, published in Circulation, found that HDL is better at fighting inflammation in some people than in others, and the better it is at fighting inflammation, the less likely you are to have a heart attack or other dangerous cardiovascular event. Of course, this doesn't mean that eating a lot of olive oil will prevent you from ever having heart problems—for one thing, the research is still in its early stages.

"This is a proof-of-concept study," the study's corresponding author Uwe Tietge, MD, PhD, told Eat This, Not That! in an interview. "It is too early to draw conclusions with respect to a potential change in clinical practice." In other words, the findings from this study shouldn't prompt you to hop off your current medications.

No food is going to put HDL directly in your body—Dr. Tietge noted, "HDL particles are generated in the body by the liver, roughly 70%, and by the intestine—roughly 30%, [per] data derived from studies in mice."

Still, there are some foods that have been linked to driving higher HDL levels, and in 2017 the AHA noted findings that olive oil can improve your HDL's ability to do what it needs to help you stay healthy.

As of now, Dr. Tietge says it's still too soon to make any specific food recommendations that would be guaranteed to help your HDL levels combat inflammation. Still, you may want to stay tuned, because he added, "It is a relevant question, though, that we will address in future work."

For now, why not bolster your diet with as many inflammation-fighting foods as you can muster? Check out these 30 anti-inflammatory foods—you can bet olive oil made the list.

Clara Olshansky
Clara Olshansky (they/she) is a Brooklyn-based writer and comic whose web content has appeared in Food & Wine, Harper’s Magazine, Men's Health, and Reductress. Read more about Clara
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