An Australian study is being hailed as an important step forward in preventing heart disease - the leading cause of death worldwide.
The study led by La Trobe University found consuming extra virgin olive oil every day can significantly reduce blood pressure, a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
Researchers say the project is significant because it's the first Australian study to show a drop in central systolic blood pressure (in central arteries such as the aorta) and peripheral systolic blood pressure (in smaller arteries in the arm) linked to olive oil consumption.
The study, published in Nutrients, involved participants from many cultural backgrounds.
The clinical trial investigating the cardioprotective qualities of Australian extra virgin olive oil involved 50 healthy adults with diverse backgrounds and diets.
It found consuming four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day can reduce central and peripheral systolic blood pressure by 2.5 and two percent, respectively.
Lead author and La Trobe Ph.D. candidate Katerina Sarapis said understanding how olive oil consumption impacts multi-ethnic communities was important.
"Extra virgin olive oil is rich in a variety of active compounds such as polyphenols, which have proven health benefits thanks to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties," Ms. Sarapis said.