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Is your olive oil in an opaque bottle? If not, it may be quickly losing some its ability to protect your blood vessels.

According to a recent study, antioxidants in virgin olive oil help relax blood vessels and improve circulation, which may lower people’s risk of atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. However, the antioxidant value of olive oil can degrade after only a few months of exposure to heat and light. Store your olive oil in an opaque cruet and in a cool place.

As part of a heart-healthy lifestyle, use virgin olive oil in flavorful vinaigrettes or any of your favorite recipes that require oil. Virgin olive oil tends to be higher in phenolic compounds than regular olive oil.

Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2005 Nov 15,46 (10):1864-1868.Epub 2005 Oct 24.

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Reprinted with permission from the Canadian Adventist Messenger, July 2006. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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