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Olive leaves and olive oil that can inhibit abnormal platelet aggregation

Olive Oil Prevents Blood Clots

Extra virgin olive oil inhibits abnormal platelet aggregation that underlies most heart attacks and ischemic strokes. Animal studies show that olive oil decreases atherosclerotic lesions, plaque size, and inflammatory responses.

Scientifically reviewed by: Andrew Roberts Jr., MPH in Global Health, MS in Medical Health, in August 2023. Written by: Stanley Carson.

Abnormal clotting inside a blood vessel is a critical factor in heart attack and ischemic stroke.1,2 The medical term for this is thrombosis.

Including extra virgin olive oil with our meals may help prevent the formation of these deadly blood clots.

Olive oil boosts a component of HDL (good cholesterol) called apoA-IV. This helps protect against platelet aggregation that can cause heart attacks (caused by coronary artery blockage) and ischemic strokes.

Platelet activity increases after eating, explaining in part why heart attacks are more likely to occur after a heavy meal.3,4

ApoA-IV helps prevent platelets from "sticking" together (called platelet aggregation), which is an early step in the development of a blood clot.2

The newly discovered ability of extra virgin olive oil to boost apoA-IV can help prevent a cardiovascular catastrophe.

What you need to know

  • A thrombus (blood clot) is a critically dangerous factor in cardiovascular disease and stroke, the leading causes of death and disability worldwide.
  • A new preclinical study has shown that a component of HDL, called apoA-IV, sharply reduces blood clotting within arteries.
  • It does this by preventing platelets from sticking together, which is an important step in the development of a blood clot.
  • In a series of preclinical experiments, olive oil boosted production of apoA-IV, which may prevent a thrombosis and a resulting heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular disaster.

A Mediterranean Diet Essential

Picture of olive oil in a bottle

For some time, the Mediterranean diet has been widely recognized as a protective factor against cardiovascular disease and death.5-8 There are wide variations in this diet, but most sources consider one of the most important components to be high consumption of olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil.9

Numerous studies have established that people who consume larger amounts of olive oil have a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, including heart attacks and strokes.10,11

Extra virgin olive oil contains beneficial monounsaturated fats. It is also rich in polyphenols such as oleuropein, which protect tissues against oxidative stress while lowering dangerous after-meal glucose levels.12,13

However, these effects alone have seemed insufficient to explain the powerful protection offered by extra virgin olive oil consumption, and a fuller explanation has long been sought.

Researchers working at Toronto's Keenan Research Center uncovered what may well be a missing link between olive oil and heart health: olive oil may help prevent the formation of a thrombosis, which is a deadly blood clot inside a blood vessel.

An Underlying Cause of Heart Attacks

A blood clot (or a thrombus) is a common cause of heart attacks and ischemic strokes.1,14

  • A heart attack occurs when the clot blocks an artery that supplies blood to the heart, causing the heart muscle to die.
  • A stroke can occur when the clot blocks an artery that supplies blood to the brain.

The Protective Role of ApoA-IV

Apolipoprotein A-IV (apoA-IV) is an important component of "good" HDL cholesterol.

Studies have shown an association between apoA-IV levels and cardiovascular disease:

  • ApoA-IV levels are lowest in those with blood-clot-related cardiovascular disease
  • ApoA-IV levels are highest in those free of such disease2,15-17

This suggests that apoA-IV might play a role in preventing the formation of blood clots, but no study had explored this connection.

Researchers from Keenan Research Center were the first to take on that task, and what they found could have a huge impact on how we approach our individual risk for heart disease and strokes, the leading killers of aging adults.2

How ApoA-IV Prevents Blood Clots

What the researchers found is that, in laboratory and animal models, apoA-IV prevents platelets from clumping together (called platelet aggregation).2

This prevents the first step in the formation of a blood clot.

Platelets are best known for forming clots when we bleed, helping to stop blood loss. But they also help stop bleeding inside our arteries when a blood vessel is damaged.

This is beneficial, and even life-saving, in small amounts.

Platelet activity also increases right after we eat. This is one of the primary reasons why heart attacks are likely to occur immediately following a heavy meal, when blood sugar, fat levels, and inflammation rise sharply.18-20

This recent study showed that apoA-IV helps prevent blood clots from forming by preventing platelets from sticking together.2

Additional Findings

The researchers also found that in a lab simulation of blood flow through both large and small vessels, apoA-IV inhibited the growth of an artificially-induced blood clot.2

And in an experiment using mice that lack the gene for apoA-IV, an artery-blocking blood clot occurred quickly after minor vessel damage. But in mice with intact apoA-IV, little to no blood clot developed, and the vessel remained open.

Researchers determined that human apoA-IV levels are lowest when platelet aggregation is highest. Specifically, apoA-IV hits bottom and platelet aggregation peaks around 6:00 a.m.2 This helps explain why serious cardiovascular events peak in the early morning hours.21-23

Additionally, this study showed that apoA-IV blunts the acceleration in platelet activity that happens after a meal.2 This increased platelet activity is another reason why heart attacks are also likely to occur after a heavy meal.3

Critical Protection

Olive oil being poured over salad

A study in mice showed that consuming extra virgin olive oil raised levels of apoA-IV, compared to a diet rich in palm oil.24

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil have been shown to boost production of apoA-IV.25

In this way, olive oil exerts a protective action that powerfully counteracts the increases in platelet aggregation that occur after eating.

An impressive mouse study showed that by boosting apoA-IV, extra virgin olive oil decreased lesions of atherosclerosis, reduced plaque size, and reduced the inflammatory responses even when the mice were fed a typical Western diet.24

Taken all together, these findings support the idea that extra virgin olive oil is more than a flavorful oil that is used in cooking. Instead, it should be viewed as an important nutraceutical capable of lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.


ApoA-IV is an important protective component of good HDL cholesterol.

People with higher apoA-IV levels have significantly reduced risk of thrombosis, in which blood clots restrict blood flow and are directly related to heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular catastrophes.

A new study has shown that apoA-IV reduces the tendency for platelets to aggregate, interrupting a crucial step in thrombosis development.

Monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil elevate apoA-IV levels. This offers critical cardiovascular protection, especially immediately after a meal, when platelet aggregation increases.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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