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Olive oil is a fat obtained from the olive (the fruit of Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The oil is produced by pressing whole olives and is commonly used in cooking,cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is used throughout the world and is often associated with Mediterranean cuisine and diet.
Olive oil consumption is thought to affect cardiovascular health and blood cholesterollevels. Epidemiological studies indicate that a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats in the diet may be linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease. Apart from olive oil's fat composition, a cause-and-effect relationship in comparison to similar oils has not yet been established with sufficient scientific evidence.
Furthermore, in a comprehensive scientific review by the European Food Safety Authority(EFSA) in 2011, cause-and-effect relationships have not been adequately established for consumption of olive oil and maintaining 1) normal blood LDL-cholesterol concentrations, 2) normal (fasting) blood concentrations of triglycerides, 3) normal blood HDL-cholesterol concentrations, and 4) normal blood glucose concentrations.
In the United States, producers of olive oil may place the following restricted health claim on product labels:
Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tbsp. (23 g) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.
This decision was announced November 1, 2004, by the Food and Drug Administration after application was made to the FDA by producers. Similar labels are permitted for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts and hemp seed.
It has been suggested that long-term consumption of small quantities of the polyphenol, oleocanthal, from olive oil may be responsible in part for the low incidence of heart disease associated with a Mediterranean diet, but this relationship remains inadequately supported by clinical research.