This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Systemic inflammation is a significant factor known to accelerate the aging process and is an underlying mechanism behind most chronic illnesses, including cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
Low-grade inflammation increases body temperature and initiates degradation of the delicate endothelial lining of the vascular system. This process is known to cause metabolic instability and is linked with the proliferation of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia.
Polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil have been shown to significantly reduce the expression of genes that trigger systemic inflammation and can be used along with natural diet to lower the risks from cardiovascular disease.
Olive Oil and Greens Lower Heart Disease Risk by More Than 40 Percent
The protective nature of a diet high in raw leafy greens and olive oil cannot be understated. Leafy greens and raw green vegetables are packed with folate, known to lower levels of circulating homocysteine that increases risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. And olive oil contains powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals before they can deteriorate normal metabolic function.
The outcome of an Italian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates how a natural diet of greens and vegetables and olive oil can slash the risk from cardiovascular disease by nearly half. Researchers collected dietary data from 30,000 middle-aged women and compared with cardiac event occurrence during an eight-year period.
They found that women with the highest daily consumption (one serving or about 2 ounces) of raw vegetables such as spinach or endive had a 46 percent lower risk of developing heart disease compared with women eating less than two servings per week.
The authors also found that consuming at least an ounce of extra virgin olive oil each day lowered the risk of a cardiac event by 44 percent compared to those who consumed a half ounce or less.
The authors concluded that there is “an inverse association between increasing consumption of leafy vegetables and olive oil and [coronary heart disease] risk.”
Olive Oil Tames Inflammation by Influencing Genes
Extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidant compounds and squalene that directly regulate genes that trigger inflammation in the body. The result of a study published in the journal BMC Genomics demonstrated the effect of olive oil on white blood cells that mount an inflammatory response when potential invaders are detected.
The oil was found to reverse the deleterious effect of inflammation caused by stress, obesity, high blood pressure and blood glucose. Extra virgin olive oil turns off multiple inflammatory genes that are activated as a consequence of metabolic syndrome, effectively providing a protective shield against cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses driven by persistent inflammation.
Systemic inflammation represents a serious health concern to an aging population and those at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. A solid body of science confirms the health-promoting effects bestowed by a raw diet of leafy green vegetables and powerful antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil.
Be certain to include these tasty food choices in your daily menu to ensure vibrant health and longevity.
 Bendinelli B et al. Fruit, vegetables, and olive oil and risk of coronary heart disease in Italian women: the EPICOR Study1,2,3. Am J Clin Nutr. December 2010.
 Camargo A et al. Gene expression changes in mononuclear cells in patients with metabolic syndrome after acute intake of phenol-rich virgin olive oil. BMC Genomics. 2010, 11:253.