PORTLAND -- Studies show that extra virgin olive oil can help prevent a number of serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and strokes.

Six months ago, 59-year old Paul Ellis found out that his health was headed down a dangerous path and he turned to a Portland doctor for help.

I had thought I was doing pretty well in terms of diet, said, but his triglycerides were actually off the charts and he was forced to take high blood pressure medicine.

I knew I was overweight, my weight had crept back up, he said.

That s when Ellis turned to Dr. Miles Hassell with Providence Integrative Medicine.

Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke that s nearly a million people every year.

A stroke can be very disabling, said Dr. Hassell, but studies have shown that eating certain foods found in a Mediterranean diet especially olive oil can actually reduce your risk of a stroke by 40-percent. Hassell said it can also help prevent other life-threatening diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, certain cancers and dementia.

That s why Dr. Hassell prescribed Ellis the Mediterranean diet. These days, Ellis adds olive oil to nearly everything he cooks and turns to raw nuts, avocado, and fish as healthier food choices.

Because of these changes, Ellis is off of his high blood pressure medication and his triglycerides went from the skyrocketing number of 1332 to just 70, in only six months.

Ellis said the doctor gave him high marks at his last check-up.

I got a little report back, this last blood screen in August, and it was, 'well done, good work,' Ellis said. He believes olive oil, the Mediterranean diet, and a half-hour of walking every day has changed his life.

To see that change in that short of time, was just phenomenal, Ellis said.

Doctors can t say exactly what it is about olive oil that helps prevent strokes. They do know extra virgin olive contains 80% oleic acid. Oleic acid promotes healthy blood clotting and acts as an anti-inflammatory for cells in the body, all things that can reduce the risk of a stroke.

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