Consumers of a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil have yet another reason to cheer. Not only is their dressing of choice delicious, a new study has also found a link with eating olive oil and a reduction in the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The study by New York University’s School of Medicine found that those consuming olive oil at least once per week consistently, had lower platelet activity.

What are platelets you ask? They are fragments of blood cells, which when activated, bind together. When a blood vessel is damaged, platelets rush to the site to form a plug. While this reveals how fascinating the body can be, this activity can at times prove threatening to our health. Meanwhile platelets can also contribute to atherosclerosis – artery-clogging plaque – which underlies the majority of heart attacks and strokes. So lowering platelet activity is appealing, and very beneficial.

The study led by Assistant Professor Sean P. Heffron involved 63 non-smoking adults, averaging 32 years old with an average body mass index (BMI) of 41 – classifying them as obese.

Their analysis revealed that participants who reported consuming olive oil at least once a week had less platelet activation than others who consumed olive oil in their diets less frequently. Those who topped the list in olive oil consumption had the least level of platelet accumulation.

“People who are obese are at increased risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event, even if they don’t have diabetes or other obesity-associated conditions,” Heffron said.

“Our study suggests that choosing to eat olive oil may have the potential to help modify that risk, potentially lowering an obese person’s threat of having a heart attack or stroke.”

It is not clear however as to how much olive oil needs to be eaten to benefit from the effects.