What we eat is a key factor in our overall health and wellbeing. While certain foods are known to increase our risk of some conditions, others can actually help lower the risk.

This is true of our cardiovascular health – or how our heart and circulatory system functions – a growing problem in the UK.

More specifically, high cholesterol is one of the causes of cardiovascular disease. This is because the cholesterol can build up in the arteries, leading them to become narrowed and preventing blood from properly flowing through.

High cholesterol is often caused by diet, with saturated fat one of the main culprits. Therefore, health bodies advise people to cut down on their saturated fat intake to improve cholesterol levels.

There are also foods that can help lower cholesterol by adding them to your regular diet.

One expert spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to recommend a food that can do just this.

Nutritional therapist for Food Power Nation, Lucia Stansbie, advised adding olive oil to your meals where possible.

“Olive oil is a great food to support cardiovascular health, and should be the oil of choice for dressing and cooking,” she said.

“Is at the core of the Mediterranean diet, which is well known to be a great dietary regime to support cardiovascular health.”

She explained more about how it works.

Lucia said: “Olive oil’s monounsaturated fats help lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol [‘bad’ cholesterol], while its antioxidants reduce inflammation and thrombogenic status.

“It promotes lowers blood pressure, and supports overall cardiovascular well-being, crucial for heart health.

“There is plenty of research on the benefits of olive oil and its fat content, and it is something that most healthcare professionals agree on.

“Scientific research also highlights olive oil’s high antioxidants content, which is also involved in preserving cardiovascular health.”

One scientific report, published in Frontiers in Nutrition in 2022, analysed 13 existing studies on the impact of olive oil on cardiovascular health.

It said: “Compared with lower consumption, higher consumption of olive oil conferred a significantly reduced risk in cardiovascular disease (CVD).”

The study concluded: “Olive oil consumption is inversely related to the risk of CVD and all-cause mortality.

“Such benefits seem to be obtained with an intake of olive oil up to 20 g/days, which deserves further exploration in future studies.”

Separate research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2020, found that consuming more than half a tablespoon of olive oil a day may lower heart disease risk.

“Higher olive oil intake was associated with lower risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) and total CVD in two large prospective cohorts of US men and women,” it said.

“The substitution of margarine, butter, mayonnaise, and dairy fat with olive oil could lead to lower risk of CHD and CVD.”

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