Why Do the Spanish Have Low Incidences of Heart Disease?

The Spanish cook with olive oil or sunflower oil -- one big reason they have a low incidence of heart disease.


Within a few days of first being in Spain, you realize just how amazing Spanish food is. Cooked with olive oil or sunflower oil, made up of more fruit and vegetables than you’ve seen anywhere else, and packed with fish and seafood, it’s no wonder the Spanish have one of the lowest incidences of heart disease in the world. Yes, you read that correctly. Because of the healthiness of the typical Spanish diet, or Mediterranean diet, the Spanish have low incidences of heart disease. So low they are currently the world’s second longest living people.

One reason most scientists think the Spanish have much less heart disease than most other developed countries is the fact that almost anything that is cooked or fried is cooked in either olive oil or sunflower oil. Both oils that not only do not cause heart disease, but many scientists now believe actually prevent it.

In fact, a study in the British Medical Journal proved it. The study followed 40,757 Spanish adults aged 29 to 69, who all participated in EPIC (the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition study), a study that included around 500,000 people all over Europe.

Eleven years after the study began, there had been 606 coronary heart disease events and 1,135 deaths, but deaths from every cause including accidents. When the study scientists sifted through the results, and adjusted them for high risk factors like Body Mass Index, smoking and high blood pressure, they discovered that people who ate a high fried food diet, as long as the food was fried in olive oil or sunflower oil, had no higher a risk of heart disease or stroke than anyone else in the study.

Add onto this the copious amounts of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish Spaniards eat and the large amounts or red wine they consume and, no, it’s not surprising they have a far lower incidence of heart disease than Americans, the British, Germans, Norwegians, Finnish and Dutch — just to mention a few nationalities many Spanish outlive.

Compare that to the nationalities that have the highest incidence of heart disease — Georgia, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia and Belarus — and, basically, if you live in Eastern Europe, you might want to move to Spain and adopt the way the Spanish eat.