5 quick Italian-inspired recipes to improve your heart health


31 January 2023 – 17:53 GMT

Francesca Shillcock

The beginning of the year, as we know, is all about a new start. Perhaps you’ve worked on a new reading goal, an exciting new hobby, or are making new adjustments to your routine to improve overall health – we all want to start the way we want to continue, right?

Cut down on alcohol or lowering our meat consumption are hot topics when a new year begins, but cardiovascular health doesn’t always come first when it comes to wellness trends, and it arguably should be a priority.

Fortunately, exciting new research shows that it’s never been easier to add a few tweaks to your daily routine after the first month of the year — and improve heart health in the process. And if you like Italian-inspired recipes (who doesn’t?), this one is for you, because you only need 20 ml of olive oil a day. Read on for all the info you need…

Poached eggs on sourdough

It is easy to add more olive oil to your daily diet

How olive oil improves heart health

It’s something most of us have in our cupboards, so adding olive oil to your daily routine to improve heart health sounds too simple to be true. But olive oil giant Filippo Berio has launched a campaign to encourage everyone to take simple steps to control our hearts.

The brand teamed up with scientists at the University of Glasgow to release some fascinating research to prove this is indeed the case. The findings show that adding olive oil, as opposed to sunflower or rapeseed, to your daily diet has scientifically proven benefits for the heart. More specifically, people who consume this amount daily will see a beneficial effect in coronary artery disease.

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Olive trees are cared for in Tuscany

Filippo Berio grows his olives in Tuscany, Italy

The good news is that it only takes 20 ml of olive oil to have a positive effect on heart health. In everyday terms, that’s the equivalent of one tablespoon and one teaspoon. The most important thing to note is that the olive oil should be consumed raw: so no frying. If you’re used to using only oil for cooking, here are five easy recipes for adding raw olive oil to get you started.

The 5 recipes:

Energy bars without baking

A fantastic breakfast option or just to keep in the fridge when you need a sweet pick-me-up.

Ingredients: 50 oatmeal porridge; 50 g of almonds; 4 tbsp mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, linseed); 200 g pitted dates; 100 grams of raisins; 2 tablespoons of honey; 80 ml Filippo Berio Mild & Light Olive Oil; 50 g of dried cranberries.

Line the bottom of a 28 cm x 18 cm baking tin with baking paper. Place the oats, almonds and seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat and lightly toast. Let cool, place in a food processor and pulse until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Put in a bowl.

Add the dates and raisins to the food processor with the honey and blend until smooth, then add the oil and pulse to combine. Add to the bowl, with the cranberries and stir to mix well. Spoon into the mold and flatten with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm, then transfer to a cutting board, remove parchment paper and cut into 16 bars.

Place No-Bake energy bars on a plate

Sicilian pesto

Pesto is a real favorite of ours. Whether mixed with linguine and fresh green vegetables, slathered on sourdough or simply used as a dip, it’s the perfect Italian sauce that we never get enough of.

100ml Filippo Berio Extra virgin olive oil; 40g blanched almonds without peel; 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved; 200 g chopped tomatoes; Sea salt – to taste; 50 g Parmesan cheese or pecorino, grated; 80 g fresh basil, washed and chopped. Place all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and pulse until blended.

Be careful not to overmix, as you don’t want the basil to be heated up by the hot blades of the food processor. When well mixed, slowly add the olive oil until you have a smooth pesto.

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jar of green pesto next to plate of pasta

Avocado on sourdough toast with olive oil

Who doesn’t like avocado on toast? Olive oil is the perfect topping for this basic brunch meal.
Use sourdough; 2 ripe avocados, sliced; Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime; sea ​​salt and pepper – to taste; 1 tsp chili flakes (optional); Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil – to serve.

Toast the sourdough bread and set aside. Mix the sliced ​​avocado with lemon or lime juice, season to taste. Divide the mixture between the 4 slices of sourdough bread. Before serving, drizzle a generous helping of raw olive oil over each slice. 2 teaspoons contain 10 ml of oil.

Avocado on sourdough bread

Greek yogurt with honey and olive oil

Make no mistake, it’s not just savory meals to consider when adding olive oil to your daily diet. By using non-extra virgin olive oil for things like Greek yogurt, you won’t get an overpowering olive flavor when you’re looking for something sweet. Use 300g of organic Greek yogurt; 4 tsp honey; ground cinnamon – to taste; 40 g chopped nuts; Fresh or stewed fruit – optional; Filippo Berio olive oil – to serve.

Mix the Greek yogurt with honey and divide over 4 bowls. Finish with 10g chopped nuts per bowl and some stewed fruit. Add cinnamon if desired. Before serving, drizzle a generous helping of light or extra virgin olive oil over each bowl. 2 teaspoons contain 10 ml of oil.

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yogurt and fruit jars

Whipped ricotta/feta cheese with olive oil

This could be the dip to pull out at a dinner party, or for yourself if you’re feeling fancy! To make whipped ricotta or feta, place the cheese in a food processor or bowl and using a whisk, beat until smooth, then gradually add olive oil and whisk until you get the right consistency. Stir in some freshly chopped herbs. Delicious as a dipping sauce with raw vegetables or slow roasted tomatoes. Delicious!

Whipped cream on a plate with carrot and tomato

What the experts say about olive oil and heart health

Dr. Bill Mullen conducted both the olive oil study and the follow-up study to test sunflower and canola oils. He explained: “The first olive oil study was carried out in Glasgow because the population of Glasgow consumed so little olive oil that it was like painting on a blank canvas. Glasgow was also the heart attack capital of the UK, if not Europe.

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“We tried to replicate the olive oil study with the two other oils. It was a surprise to us to find that neither oil had a beneficial effect on heart health.”

Filippo Berio classic olive oil

Filippo Berio’s general manager, Walter Zanré, explains: “Olive oil has long been seen as a healthy oil because of its association with the Mediterranean diet. This theory was previously based only on correlation.

“Those living in the Mediterranean region, for example, have a lower incidence of heart disease (CAD) than in the UK. But this study from the University of Glasgow doesn’t just prove a causal link between olive oil, in any form, and improving of heart health – it also shows that it is the only oil that offers these benefits.”

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