Being from a Mediterranean family, I’ve been closely acquainted with olive oil since I was a child. And I lucked out, as the benefits of olive oil within a Mediterranean diet have long been touted.

Eating things like salmon, complex carbs, hummus, and fibrous veggies is known to have a remarkably positive effect on the body and its longevity.

The Mediterranean diet

“Those who are on a Mediterranean diet, their brains are nice and bright and active,”  Lisa Mosconi, associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College and author of Brain Food: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power told Considerable. “For the Western diets, the brains are less active to start, and they show energy decline over time.”

And don’t forget to drizzle that fish and hummus with just around a tablespoon of olive oil. New research shows that olive oil’s abundant role in a healthy Mediterranean diet helps boost heart health.

The researchers presented their findings at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions in Phoenix.

Their analysis dates back to 1990 and reveals that consuming just 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil a day (or more) lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by 15% and the risk of coronary heart disease by 21%.

While olive oil has been linked to improved heart health in the past, it was only in this recent study that the liquid fat improved the health of a U.S.-based population.

Dr. Benjamin Hirsh, director of preventive cardiology at Northwell Health’s Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital in Manhasset, New York lauded olive oil’s total-body benefits.

Olive oil is a simple way to replace unhealthy, saturated, and trans-fatty acids of animal fats with a source of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol,” Hirsh told Healthline. “It has also been associated with improved vascular function, heart health, and survival.”

All hail olive oil

With this new information supporting all of the past research on the benefits of olive oil, perhaps it’s time to make some switches to your diet. The Mediterranean diet focuses on unrefined, plant-based foods, fish, and plenty of olive oil.

After you indulge in your hummus, pita bread and sautéed veggies, try treating yourself to a nap. Research says that napping is linked with lower cardiovascular disease as well.

Watch this