Background and objective: The cardioprotective properties of Mediterranean Diet were demonstrated for the first time from the Seven Country Study. In the last few decades, numerous epidemiological studies, as well as intervention trial, confirmed this observation, pointing out the close relationship between the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular diseases. In this context, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the most representative component of this diet, seems to be relevant in lowering the incidence of cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction and stroke. From a chemical point of view, 98-99% of the total weight of EVOO is represented by fatty acids, especially monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid. Tocopherols, polyphenols and other minor constituents represent the remaining 1-2%. All these components may potentially contribute to "health maintenance" with their beneficial effects by EVOOO.
Methods: Studies that examined the effect of EVOO supplementation in healthy subjects and in individuals at cardiovascular risk were included.
Conclusion: The studies analyzed demonstrated the role of EVOO as anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and vasodilatory nutrient that may contribute to lower the atherosclerotic burden.
Keywords: Antioxidant; anti-atherosclerotic nutrient; cardiovascular disease; endothelial dysfunction; extra virgin olive oil; nutraceutical.
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