Olive oil staves off stroke in the elderly
A diet rich in olive oil lowers the risk of having a stroke in later life by more than a third, a new study claims.
Figures show that people over 65 who use olive oil for cooking and on salads and bread are 41 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke.
It can also help protect against other health problems, such as diabetes, high-blood pressure, high-cholesterol and obesity.
This scientific breakthrough could help prevent some of the 120,000 strokes suffered by Britons every year.
Strokes occur when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, starving the cells of oxygen and other nutrients.
It can be caused by a blockage or a bleed.
It causes some cells to become damaged and others to die, and can result in paralysis, loss of speech and blurred vision.
But olive oil helps unclog arteries, providing a cheap way of maintaining a healthy heart.
The study, published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, looked at medical records of 7,625 people aged 65 plus over a period of five years.
The study author Dr Cécilia Samieri with the University of Bordeaux, France, said: "Our research suggests that a new set of dietary recommendations should be issued to prevent stroke in people 65 and older.
"Stroke is so common in older people and olive oil would be an inexpensive and easy way to help prevent it."
During the research, olive oil consumption was categorised as "no use," "moderate use" such as using olive oil in cooking or as dressing or with bread, and "intensive use," which included using olive oil for both cooking and as dressing or with bread.
After a little over five years, there were 148 strokes.
After considering diet, physical activity, body mass index and other risk factors for stroke, the study found that those who regularly used olive oil for both cooking and as dressing had a two fifth lower risk of stroke compared to those who never used olive oil in their diet.