The Mediterranean diet -- originally considered the "poor man's diet" -- is a heart healthy diet that includes eating a lot of nutrient-dense plant foods such as legumes, nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and, perhaps most famously, olive oil. This diet also includes low to moderate levels of consumption for red meat, fish, poultry, eggs and wine. This diet, however, isn't just about eating certain foods. It also includes regular physical activity, which helped associate the Mediterranean diet with lower rates of obesity.
An important component of the Mediterranean diet is olive oil, which gives this diet many of its heart healthy benefits, and it does this through a number of ways. (Related: Olive oil is the healthiest choice when it comes to frying food, study finds.)
Olive oil has been shown to help increase the levels of healthy HDL cholesterol in the body. Specifically, it boosts a compound known as apoA-IV, which prevent blood clots by keeping platelets from sticking together. Furthermore, extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fats, is known for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. This means that extra virgin olive oil can strengthen the health of the heart, arteries, blood vessels, capillaries and other cardiovascular tissues.
All of these benefits mean that consuming olive oil can prevent one of the biggest killers of people: heart attacks. It has been found that one of the biggest triggers of heart attacks is eating a big meal. Consuming olive oil can decrease platelet activity after heavy meals, lowering your risk of getting a heart attack.
There are many more health benefits associated with olive oil, such as how it can prevent stroke, has anti-cancer properties and its consumption is not associated with weight gain. However, the right kind of olive oil needs to be chosen, otherwise you won't get to experience any of these health benefits.
When you look at the selection of olive oil in grocery stores, you may see a lot of choices that are seemingly good. However, there are certain things you need to keep in mind when making your pick. This superfood can come in many varieties, some of which are healthier than others.
Carefully choose the right kind of olive oil to incorporate into your diet, so you can experience its heart-friendly benefits and the health-supporting properties of the Mediterranean diet.