If you live in a city that has air pollution, it's taking a toll on your health. Airborne particulates in the pollution put you at an increased risk for atherosclerosis and heart disease. But a new study may have found a solution.
This study was led by Dr. Haiyan Tong, MD, PhD, a research biologist who works with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. He knew from past research that airborne particulates affect the endothelium, or inner lining, of blood vessels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular and atherosclerosis issues. He also knew that both olive oil and fish oil are effective against endothelial dysfunction. But could they fight pollution as well? Dr. Tong decided to find out.
He studied 42 healthy adults who received three grams a day of olive oil, fish oil, or no supplements for four weeks. After four weeks, the researchers exposed the participants to filtered air for two hours. Then on the subsequent day they exposed the groups to concentrated ambient particulate matter, or CAP, in a controlled-exposure chamber.
Dr. Tong and his team then assessed the participants' endothelial function by measuring dilation of the brachial artery. They measured the dilation before, immediately after, and 20 hours after exposure to both the filtered air and the CAP. They also measured blood markers of vasoconstriction and fibrinolysis, which is a process that keeps blood clots from growing.
After exposure to CAP, the control and fish oil groups showed significant decreases in dilation. But the olive oil group did not. The olive oil group also demonstrated an increase in tissue plasminogen activator, which is a protein that helps break down blood clots. This increase began right after CAP exposure and continued for up to 20 hours. Plus, they had fewer changes in the blood markers associated with vasoconstriction and fibrinolysis. The fish oil group, on the other hand, did not seem to experience any benefits or protection as a result of the supplement.
Dr. Tong concluded, "Our study suggests that use of olive oil supplements may protect against the adverse vascular effects of exposure to air pollution particles. If these results are replicated in further studies, use of these supplements might offer a safe, low cost, and effective means of counteracting some of the health consequences of exposure to air pollution."
Olive oil has plenty of benefits, so consider supplementing with it and using it in your cooking, particularly if you live somewhere with high levels of pollution. Your cardiovascular system will thank you!
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