Olive Oil Associated with Lower Risk of Ischemic Stroke

Richard Libman, MD

Previous studies have shown that a Mediterranean-style diet has been associated with protection against dementia, as well as stroke. However, the exact components of the Mediterranean diet which may be protective have not been clarified by the studies. 

We know that olive oil, an important component of a Mediterranean diet, has previously been shown to be associated with a lower risk of heart attacks. A recent study published in Neurology, reported that olive oil was associated with a lower risk of ischemic stroke  (a blood clot in the brain). 
In the study, French researchers from the University of Bordeaux and the National Institutes of Health and Medical Research looked at the medical records of 7, 625 people ages 65 and older from three cities in France. Participants had no history of stroke. Olive oil consumption was categorized as “no use,” “moderate use,” and “intensive use.” After five years, there were 148 strokes. The study found that those who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as a dressing had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who never used olive oil in their diet. Most of the study participants used extra virgin olive oil.
This is most encouraging and may be useful in the general population to decrease the risk of stroke. A major caveat, however, exists with this type of study in that it is an observational study, not a randomized trial. For this reason, it is subject to multiple sources of bias, both measured and unmeasured, which can potentially give false results. As such, the study findings should not be taken as the final answer, but should stimulate further research.



Richard Libman, MD,

Chief of Vascular Neurology
Harvey Cushing Institutes of Neuroscience
North Shore-LIJ Health System

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