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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    I have high cholesterol and I want to know if I can use olive oil in my cooking and salad dressing?

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  • 1

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    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat and it is thought to have a cardio-protective effect as opposed to saturated fat (found in meat, chicken, dairy products and coconut milk, for example) which has damaging effect. In Mediterranean countries there are low rates of heart disease and it is thought that this is predominantly due to the addition of olive oils to cooked and uncooked foods. Diets rich in olive oil as the dominant fat source may help reduce blood clotting and consequently heart disease – the mechanism to explain this is still under investigation, however. You must remember that olive oil is high in calories. If you consume too much your weight will rise and the increased weight will have a negative impact on your blood lipids.

  • Nicole Senior

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    I'm an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Nutritionist, consultant, author, speaker and food and health enthusiast. I love talking and writing about food and health.(please note, … View Profile

    Yes of course you can and using extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) will add great flavour and beneficial phytochemicals (such as antioxidants). Since cooking destroys many of the phytochemicals, EVOO is best kept to dressing and drizzling. According to the latest available evidence, while monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil are great replacements for saturated fats, they're not as good as polyunsaturated fats like those found in sunflower oil for cholesterol-lowering and reducing the risk of cardiovascualr disease. Read why low-fat diets are not recommended here http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-full-story/  
    The best thing to do for cholesterol lowering is to inlcude both kinds of healthy fats in your diet and ensure you are eating your quota of heart-friendly foods- many of which feature in the famous Mediterranean diet: vegetables, legumes, fruits, wholegrains, nuts and fish (the Mediterranean diet is so much more than just olive oil). A practical combination is to use EVOO where the flavour really counts like in salads and Italian meals, and other oils for cooking other meals. Complement this with a plant sterol enriched margarine spread (such as Pro-activ or Logicol) for the best cholesterol-lowering results. If you'd like to know how to put together the best diet for cholesterol lowering  according to the latest science- you could reduce your cholesterol by 20% in 3-4 weeks - plus delicious tried and tested recipes, check out Eat to Beat Cholesterol available at http://www.greatideas.net.au/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=Eat+to+beat+cholesterol&x=27&y=3&osCsid=255c47594f5d1f2a290c598a80a29499

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