OKLAHOMA CITY -- New research shows big health benefits if you add some olive oil to your diet.
Sixty-year-old Sherry Lunetto's cholesterol was high, putting her at risk for heart attack and stroke. So she made big diet changes.
"I'm eating a lot less fat," say Lunetto, a patient. "I'm trying to eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans."
New research shows adding another ingredient, olive oil, could also improve her health. A study of 7,600 people over 65 in France finds those who regularly used olive oil for cooking and dressing have a 41 percent lower risk of stroke.
"The type of fat that an olive oil is a component that can actually do other things," says Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum with Lenox Hill Hospital. "It's omega three fatty acids, and we know that these decrease inflammation, decrease cholesterol , dilate the arteries, and prevent clots."
Olive oil is also known to protect against other stroke and heart disease risk factors including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.
People in the french study mostly used extra virgin olive oil which doctors say has the highest amounts of antioxidants. It's also the purest olive oil that has the most protection for the artery.
Lunetto is glad to hear she may be lowering her stroke risk already.
"All this information has been out there for years, I just wasn't listening," says Lunetto.