Olive Oil & the Heart: Not Just a Mediterranean Thing

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Quick Updates June 4, 2020

Social Distancing Works: A systematic review of observational studies evaluated the effectiveness with which social distancing, face masks, and eye protection prevent the transmission of COVID-19, other severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) disease, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) from patients with confirmed or probable cases to healthy individuals. 

 

The meta-analysis involved pooled estimates from 44 comparative studies with 25,697 participants, including seven studies of COVID-19 with 6,674 participants. The analysis showed physical distancing of at least 1 meter (3.3 feet) from exposed individuals was associated with a 12.8% chance of becoming infected.  Keeping a 2 meter (6.6 feet) distance reduced the risk of infection down to 2.6%. The N95 masks were shown to be more effective than other types of mask but again, the protective effect of any mask is highly dependent on the distance from an infected individual.


The moral of the story: Better to be sick of social distancing, which we all are than to be sick with Covid-19. Keep social distancing, avoid large gatherings. We are in this together and together we will celebrate in good health the end of this pandemic.

 

Olive Oil & the Heart: Not Just a Mediterranean Thing: Daily consumption of olive oil has been repeatedly shown to be associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) among people living in the Mediterranean region. 


A good scientist, however, would ask “Is it olive oil or is there something else about living in the Mediterranean that lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD)?” Researchers decided to look at olive oil consumption among 92,978 Americans over a period of 24 years.

Higher olive oil intake was associated with a lower risk of CHD and total CVD. In addition, those that consumed more olive oil had lower blood markers (e.g., erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein) for inflammation which also lowers the risk of CHD. 


This study does not prove olive oil prevents heart disease, but maybe all it proves is that you care about your health and the health of your family if you use olive oil instead of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat. Lowering the risk of disease is always a good thing but maximizing caring is what makes life worth living. 

 

Sources: 

Derek K. Chu, Elie A. Akl, Stephanie Duda, Karla Solo, Sally Yaacoub, Holger J. Schünemann, on behalf of the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Systematic Urgent Review Group Effort (SURGE). Physical distancing, face masks, and eye protection to prevent person-to-person transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet. Published online June 1, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140- 6736(20)31142-9

Marta Guasch-Ferré, Gang Liu, Yanping Li, Laura Sampson, JoAnn E. Manson, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Miguel A. Martínez-González, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, Qi Sun and Frank B. Hu. Olive Oil Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk in U.S. Adults. Journal of the American College of Cardiology 75:(15), April 2020 doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2020.02.036. 

Olive oil and the heart. Center for Science in the Public Interest: Nutrition Action Health Letter. June 2020. 

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Dr. Stephen Almada 

Health Psychologist

salmada@hsichicago.org