The study, from researchers at the Cancer Research and Prevention Institute in Florence, Italy, found that women who eat more olive oil and leafy vegetables such as salads and cooked spinach are significantly less likely to develop heart disease.
In fact, as little as one serving (1/2 cup cooked) of leafy green vegetables per day lowered the risk of heart disease by more than 40 percent, as did 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
To investigate, researchers reviewed dietary information collected from nearly 30,000 Italian women participating in a large national health study.
Researchers followed the women, whose mean age was 50 at the beginning of the study, for an average of 8 years, noting who developed heart disease. In that time, the women experienced 144 major heart disease-related events, such as heart attack or bypass surgery.
Researchers found that women who ate at least one daily serving of leafy vegetables - such as raw lettuce or endives or cooked vegetables like spinach or chard - had a 46 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than women who ate less than two portions per week.
Researchers also found that consuming at least one ounce of olive oil per day lowered the risk of heart disease by 44 percent relative to women who consumed a half-ounce or less daily.
The women's intake of other types of vegetables, such as roots and cabbages, and their consumption of tomatoes or fruit did not seem to be linked to their risk for heart disease.
This is not the first study to link olive oil and vegetables to good heart health. The well known ttraditional Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and monounsaturated fats from olive oil and nuts and low in saturated fat from meat and dairy, has been tied to a decreased risk of heart disease in many studies.
The latest findings were reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
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