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|Anyone coming from the Mediterranean region of the world would tell you
about the health benefits, as well as the wonderful flavor, of a good dose
of olive oil on salads, pasta, fish and almost anything else. Fortunately,
it is available throughout the year to satisfy taste buds and promote good
Olive oil is made from the crushing and then subsequent pressing of olives.
The fact that olives are rich in oil is reflected in the botanical name of
the olive tree-*Olea europea*- since the word "oleum" means oil in Latin.
Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives and
has the most delicate flavor and most antioxidant benefits.
Pure, extra virgin olive oil is not only a light and delicate addition to
many wonderful dishes, it is one of the most health-promoting types of oils
available. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that
researchers are discovering has excellent health benefits.
Protection Against Chronic Degenerative Disease
In many parts of the world, a high fat intake is associated with
degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, colon
cancer, and arthritis.
But in some parts of the world, a high fat intake is
actually associated with lower rates of these conditions. A closer look at
the foods eaten in these places reveals that the high fat intake is actually
due to the generous use of olive oil. Comparing these areas, such as the
Mediterranean, where olive oil is the main fat used, to other regions, like
the United States, where other fats such as animal fats, hydrogenated fats
and vegetable oils like corn oil dominate, turns up some very interesting
data. It turns out that people who use olive oil regularly, especially in
place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease,
atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma.
Live Longer-Eat an Olive Oil-Rich Mediterranean-style Diet
In a prospective study (one in which participants are chosen and then
followed forward in time) involving 5,611 adults 60 years or older,
adherence to a Mediterranean style dietary pattern - characterized by high
consumption of olive oil, raw vegetables, soups, and poultry - was
associated with a significantly lower risk of death from all causes.
After 6.2 years, those most closely following a Mediterranean olive oil and
salad dietary pattern had a 50% reduced risk of overall mortality. Much
less favorable were the results seen in those most closely following a
pasta and meat dietary pattern - characterized by pasta, tomato sauce, red
meat, processed meat, added animal fat, white bread and wine - whose overall
mortality risk increased.
Study authors concluded, "Dietary recommendations aimed at the Italian
elderly population should support a dietary pattern characterized by a high
consumption of olive oil, raw vegetables and poultry." (Masala G, Ceroti M,
et al., *Br J Nutr*.)
Olive Oil Highly Protective against Heart Disease
Relying only on olive oil may cut your risk of coronary heart disease
almost in half, show results from the CARDIO2000 case-control study,
published in *Clinical Cardiology* (Kontogianni MD, Panagiotakos DB, et
Conducted in Greece, and involving 700 men and 148 women with coronary heart
disease, and 1078 age- and sex-matched healthy controls, this study looked
not only at diet but also at alcohol intake, physical activity and smoking
habits. Nutritional habits, including use of oils in daily cooking or
preparation of food, was also evaluated.
Even after adjustments were made to account for a variety of other variables
-- including body mass index, smoking, physical activity level, educational
status, a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high
cholesterol and diabetes -- exclusive use of olive oil was associated with a
47% lower likelihood of having coronary heart disease.
Consuming other fats or oils as well as olive oil, however, conferred no
The researchers concluded, "Exclusive use of olive oil during food
preparation seems to offer significant protection against coronary heart
disease, irrespective of various clinical, lifestyle and other
characteristics of the participants."
- Instead of serving butter, fill a small condiment dish with extra
virgin olive oil for use on bread, rolls, potatoes or other vegetables.
- For even more flavor, try adding a few drops of balsamic vinegar or a
sprinkling of your favorite spices to the olive oil.
- To get the most health benefit and flavor from your olive oil, buy and
store oil in opaque containers, and add olive oil to foods immediately *
Studies on olive oil and atherosclerosis reveal that particles of LDL
cholesterol (the potentially harmful cholesterol) that contain the
monounsaturated fats of olive oil are less likely to become oxidized. Since
only oxidized cholesterol sticks to artery walls, eventually forming the
plaques that can lead to a heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation
of cholesterol is a good way to help prevent atherosclerosis. A recent *in
vitro* study also showed that polyphenolic compounds present in olive oil,
including oleuropein, inhibit the adhesion of monocyte cells to the blood
vessel lining, a process that is involved in the development of
atherosclerosis. In addition, when people with high cholesterol levels
removed the saturated fat from their diets and replaced it with olive oil,
their total cholesterol levels dropped an average of 13.4%, and their LDL
cholesterol levels dropped by 18%. Note, however, that these benefits
occurred when they used olive oil in place of other fats, rather than simply
adding olive oil to a diet high in unhealthy fats.
A study published in the *Medical Science Monitor* reported that 2
tablespoons a day of olive oil added to an otherwise unchanged diet in 28
outpatients, ranging in age from 64 to 71, resulted in significant drops in
total- and LDL cholesterol. Mean concentrations of total cholesterol were
lowered by 0.818 mmol/L, and mean concentrations of LDL dropped 0.782
mmol/L. Plus, subjects ratio of HDL:LDL greatly improved; they ended up with
higher amounts of protective HDL in relation to lower amounts of dangerous
Three other recent studies (Valavanidis et al.; Morella et al.; Masella et
al., see references below) suggest that such heart-healthy effects from
olive oil are due not only to its high content of monounsaturated fats, but
also to its hefty concentration of antioxidants, including chlorophyll,
carotenoids and the polyphenolic compounds tyrosol, hydrotyrosol and
oleuropein-all of which not only have free radical scavenging abilities, but
protect the vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) also found in olive oil.
Greek scientists at the University of Athens reporting their research in the
*Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry* believe the synergy of all these
beneficial nutrients is what is responsible for olive oils contribution to
the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, a hypothesis supported by
Italian research published in the *Journal of Nutrition*.
In this study, scientists found that the phenols in olive oil have very
potent antioxidant effects. The protective effects exerted by extra virgin
olive oil biophenols, namely, protocatechuic acid and oleuropein, against
LDL oxidation included:
- completely preventing LDLs oxidation when placed in a medium
containing macrophage-like cells (in the arteries, arteriosclerosis begins
when macrophages damage LDL, starting the development of foam cells that
infiltrate the lining of the artery and begin plaque formation)
- inhibiting the production of two powerful oxidants that would normally
have been produced and would have damaged LDL, thus preventing the expected
decrease in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant the body produces to disarm
oxidants (also called free radicals)
- restoring to normal levels the protective activities of two free
radical-disarming enzymes that contain glutathione: glutathione reductase
and glutathione peroxidase
- inducing higher than normal production and activity of both of these
Olive Oil, Super Food for the Heart
A review of the research by noted olive oil researcher Maria Covas strongly
suggests that diets in which olive oil is the main source of fat can be a
useful tool against a wide variety of risk factors for cardiovascular
disease. (Covas MI, Pharmacology Research)
On November 2004, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S.A
permitted a claim on olive oil labels concerning: "the benefits on the risk
of coronary heart disease of eating about two tablespoons (23 g) of olive
oil daily, due to the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) in olive oil."
But recent studies have shown that olive oil contains much more than MUFA.
Olive oil is a functional food that is also rich in antioxidants and
phenolic compounds with a variety of protective effects.
The cholesterol of a person whose diet is high in olive oil will primarily
contain oleic acid, the fatty acid that predominates in olive oil, and oleic
acid is more resistant to free radical or oxidative damage. And not only
will the LDL of a person whose dietary fat is primarily olive oil produce
LDL that is more resistant to free radical damage, but that individuals LDL
will be further protected by olive oils supplies of vitamin E and phenols
with antioxidant activity, further lessening the likelihood of its being
By reducing both inflammation and free radical damage to cholesterol,
dietary olive oil protects the endothelium, the lining of our blood vessels,
helping to maintain its ability to relax and dilate (thus preventing high
By protecting LDL against oxidation, olive oil short circuits the process
through which atherosclerotic plaques form. (Only once oxidized does LDL
adhere to the endothelium, attracting immune cells (monocytes) that try to
clear it out, turn into foam cells and begin plaque formation.)
The anti-inflammatory effects of a virgin olive oil-rich diet also result in
a vascular environment in which platelets are less likely to clump together
and form blood clots. Not only do olive oils antioxidant compounds lessen
the inflammation initiated by free radical damage, but olive oil is rich in
inhibitors of a compound called platelet activating factor (PAF). PAF begins
the clotting process by causing platelets to aggregate and is also involved
in the activation of immune cells and their binding to the endothelial wall.
Compared to diets high in saturated fat and low fat, high carbohydrate
diets, a number of studies have shown that olive oil-rich diets not only
reduce LDL cholesterol levels, but also lower blood sugar levels and
decrease insulin requirements in persons with type 2 diabetes.
Practical Tip: Rely on delicious, flavorful virgin olive oil as your first
choice for dressing salads. Put a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar on
your bread plate and use it to add flavor to crusty whole wheat bread and
rolls. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes, beans, grains, steamed vegetables,
and soups. You will not only enhance the flavor of your food, but greatly
reduce your cardiovascular disease risk.
Virgin Olive Oil the Best Oil for Heart Health
Virgin olive oil, a much richer source of polyphenols than refined olive or
other refined oils, is the best vegetable oil for heart health, shows the
results of the Eurolive study, published in the September 2006 *Annals of
The 6 research center study, led by Maria-Isabel Covas of the Municipal
Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, assigned 200 healthy men from 5
European countries - Spain, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Germany - to one of
three sequences of daily consumption of olive oil. The men replaced their
normal dietary fats with olive oil (25 mL) containing either 2.7 (refined),
164 (virgin), or 366 (extra virgin) mg/kg of phenols for 3 weeks. This was
followed by 2 weeks without any olive oil and then a cross-over to each of
the other 2 remaining interventions.
Blood samples were taken before and after each intervention to measure blood
sugar, total and HDL (good) cholesterol, triglycerides, free radical damage
to cholesterol, and antioxidant levels.
The data revealed a linear increase in HDL (good) cholesterol levels as the
phenolic content of the olive oil increased, with increases of 0.025, 0.032,
and 0.045 mmol/L for the low, medium and high polyphenol-containing olive
Oxidized LDL (the form in which LDL is involved in atherosclerosis)
decreased linearly, dropping from 1.21 U/L , to -1.48 U/L , to -3.21 U/L for
the low-, medium-, and high-polyphenol olive oil, respectively. And the
ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, considered the most specific
cholesterol-associated risk factor for cardiovascular disease, also
decreased linearly as the phenolic content of the olive oil rose.
"Olive oil is more than a monounsaturated fat. Its phenolic content can also
provide benefits for plasma lipid
levels and oxidative damage," concluded the researchers.
A statement released by the Municipal Institute of Medical Research noted,
This study represents a key piece for recommendations
and contributes information
with great repercussions for the community, especially in populations or
countries where olive oil does not comprise the habitual oil of the diet."
Extra virgin olive oil-organic, if available-may cost a bit more than lesser
quality oils, but the significant increase in cardiovascular benefits, not
to mention richer flavor it provides, make it an extremely good investment
in your health.
Key to the Mediterranean Diets Ability to Lower Blood Pressure
Theodora Psaltopoulou and colleagues from the University of Athens, Greece
investigated whether the Mediterranean diet as a whole, or just olive oil,
is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure associated with this way
of eating. Their finding: while the diet as a whole reduces blood pressure,
olive oil, by itself, is largely responsible.
The Greek team examined the ability of the total diet and of olive oil alone
to reduce arterial blood pressure. Their study included over 20,000 Greek
participants who were free of hypertension (high blood pressure) when the
study began. Food frequency questionnaires were completed and systolic and
diastolic blood pressures were taken.
Diet was evaluated by a 10 point score that reflected the extent to which
study participants followed the Mediterranean diet and also provided scores
for individual components of the diet, including olive oil.
Data analysis confirmed that the Mediterranean diet as a whole was
significantly associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure as
were olive oil, vegetables and fruit. On the other hand, consumption of
cereals, meat and meat products, and alcohol intake was associated with
higher blood pressure. When the effects of olive oil and vegetables were
compared, olive oil was found to be responsible for the dominant beneficial
effect on blood pressure.
Polyphenols, not Fats, Responsible for Olive Oils Benefits
Its likely the abundance of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil, rather
than its monounsaturated fatty acids, are responsible for its well-known
And its rich supply of polyphenols, which are known to have
anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticoagulant actions, may also be
central to emerging evidence that olive oils protective effects extend to
colon cancer and osteoporosis (see Protection against Colon Cancer, Olive
Oil Polyphenols Prevent Bone Loss also in this section).
Research conducted by Dr. Juan Ruano and colleagues at the Reina Sofia
University Hospital, Cordoba, Spain, and published in the *Journal of the
American College of Cardiology*, investigated the effects of virgin olive
oil on endothelial function in 21 volunteers with high cholesterol levels.
The endothelium, although just a one-cell thick layer of flat cells that
lines the inner wall of all blood vessels, may be the critical player in
cardiovascular health. Among its many functions, the endothelium
orchestrates the mechanics of blood flow, and regulates blood clot formation
and the adhesion of immune cells to the blood vessel wall (one of the first
steps in the formation of plaque).
Normally, after a meal, endothelial function is impaired for several hours.
Blood vessels become less elastic, and blood levels of free radicals
potentially harmful to cholesterol (lipoperoxides and 8-epi
But when the subjects in this study ate a breakfast containing virgin olive
oil with its normal high phenolic content (400 ppm), their endothelial
function actually improved, blood levels of nitric oxide (a blood
vessel-relaxing compound produced by the endothelium) increased
significantly, and far fewer free radicals were present than would normally
be seen after a meal.
When they ate the same breakfast containing the same type of virgin olive
oil with its phenolic content reduced to 80 ppm, the beneficial effects were
virtually absent, and concentrations of cholesterol-damaging free radicals
The results of this study underscore the importance of knowing how to
select, store and serve your olive oil to maximize its polyphenol content.
For all the information you need, see our How to Select and Store section
Olive Oil Especially Protective in People with High Cholesterol
A variation on the above study also shows that including some extra virgin
olive oil (which is rich in clot-fighting phenols) in your meals may help
prevent the formation of blood clots, an occurrence whose likelihood
increases after eating, particularly in people with high cholesterol.
In the early stages of atherosclerosis, the balance between clot-promoting
and clot-dissolving factors in the blood vessels shifts in favor of clot
formation, a situation made even more dangerous by the high levels of fat
that can appear in the blood after a meal.
Researchers had 21 people with high cholesterol eat two different
breakfasts. For one week, they consumed either white bread with virgin olive
oil containing 400 parts per million phenols, or white bread with olive oil
from which much of the phenols had been extracted, leaving only 80 parts per
million. Study participants then switched to the opposite meal. After the
high-phenol olive oil meal, participants concentrations of two clot
promoters, factor VII antigen and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, were
much lower compared to the low-phenol olive oil meal. (Ruano J,
Lopez-Miranda J, et al., *Am J Clin Nutr*.)
Olive Oil Cardio-Protective - But Dont Overdo It
Its the Mediterranean version of the French paradox: in the REGICOR Study,
conducted in Spain, researchers found a lower incidence of heart attacks
despite a high prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Olive
oil-which accounts for nearly 35% of calories and is the main source of fat
in Mediterranean countries-was a likely explanation.
To investigate this, Maria-Isabel Covas, PhD, Head of The Research Group in
Oxidative Stress and Nutrition at the Lipids and Cardiovascular Epidemiology
Unit, Institute Municipal d́Investigació Mèdica, Barcelona, Spain, brought
together an international team with partners from Denmark, Finland, Germany
and Greece to collaborate in the EUROLIVE Project.
In addition to studies on the bioavailability of polyphenols from olive oil
in humans, the EUROLIVE Project has conducted 6 clinical trials in which 3
olive oils, similar except for differences in their polyphenol content (low,
2.7 mg/kg; medium, 164 mg/kg; and high, 366 mg/kg), were given to healthy
male volunteers in intervention periods of 3 weeks at doses of 25 mL/day.
Results of the EUROLIVE studies have shown that:
The higher the polyphenolic content of the olive oil, the higher the
increase in levels of HDL "good" cholesterol. Average increase in HDL was
0.025 mmol/L for low, 0.032 mmol/L for medium, and 0.045 mmol/L for high
phenolic olive oil, respectively. (Extra virgin olive oil contains the most
polyphenols, followed by virgin olive oil, olive oil and a highly refined
olive oil called "pomace.")
Subjects atherogenic index (their ratio of total cholesterol to HDL
cholesterol) and the oxidative (free radical) damage of cholesterol and
other lipids decreased as the polyphenolic content of the olive oil
increased. (Lipid oxidation--free radical damage to cholesterol and other
fats-is considered a high risk factor for coronary heart disease
In men from Northern and Central Europe who do not typically eat a
Mediterranean diet, daily consumption of 25 mL of olive oil resulted in a 3%
decrease in systolic blood pressure.
Consuming 25 mL/day of olive oil, in replacement of other fats, did not
cause weight gain.
A moderate amount of olive oil-a 25 mL dose (1.7 tablespoons)-did not
promote postprandial (after meals) oxidative stress (free radical damage to
cholesterol) whereas a single olive oil dose of 40 mL (2.7 tablespoons) did.
*Practical Tip*: Olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil, provides a
number of heart-healthy benefits-increasing HDL "good" cholesterol,
improving the ratio of LDL:HDL, and, if you arent already following a
Mediterranean diet, may lower your systolic blood pressure as well. But
dont overdo it. Consuming more than a couple of tablespoons at a meal can
increase free radical damage of cholesterol.
Key to the Mediterranean Diets Ability to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk
Olive oil may be the key reason that eating a Mediterranean diet reduces
breast cancer risk, suggests a laboratory study published in the *Annals of
Oncology*. Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil, has
been shown to reduce the expression of the Her-2/neu oncogene, which is
associated with the aggressive growth of breast cancer tumors. High levels
of Her-2/neu are found in one-fifth of breast cancers, especially those that
are resistant to treatment.
In this study, when Menendez and his colleagues from Northwestern University
in Chicago exposed two strains of aggressive breast cancer cells to oleic
acid, levels of Her-2/neu dropped 46%. When they combined oleic acid with
lower levels than are normally used of Herceptin, a drug used to treat
breast cancer, oleic acid greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the drug,
dropping Her-2/neu expression as much as 70%. The end result: oleic acid
promoted the apoptotic cell death (suicide) of aggressive, treatment
resistant breast cancer cells.
A human study adds to the evidence that olive oil is a key factor in the
lowering of breast cancer risk associated with a Mediterranean diet. Results
of this two-year long study involving 755 women in the Canary Islands
suggest that monounsaturated fat and, specifically, olive oil exert a
protective effect against breast cancer.
Study participants consuming the most monounsaturated fat were found to have
a 48% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose intake of
monounsaturated fat was lowest.
Among women consuming the most olive oil, specifically, the risk of breast
cancer was even lower. Compared to those consuming the least olive oil,
women whose daily intake of olive oil was at least 8.8 grams, the equivalent
of just .65 tablespoon/day, had a 73% lower risk of breast cancer risk!
Better Blood Sugar Control
Studies in diabetic patients have shown that healthy meals that contained
some olive oil had better effects on blood sugar even than healthy meals
that were low in fat. When olive oil is used to enhance a low-saturated fat,
high carbohydrate diabetic diet, the diet still has beneficial effects on
blood sugar control. In addition to this, a good diabetic diet with some
olive oil added helps to keep triglyceride levels low. Triglyceride levels
tend to be high in diabetic patients, which is a problem since high levels
also contribute to the development of heart disease. So a high carbohydrate,
healthy diabetic diet with some olive oil added in can help for several
Helps Prevent Belly Fat and Improve Insulin Sensitivity
What you eat may affect where fat deposits on your body. Belly fat is
associated with insulin resistance, which leads to further weight gain and
increases risk of type 2 diabetes.
When researchers fed type 2 diabetic patients different diets - a high
carbohydrate diet, or a diet rich in either saturated fat or olive oil
(Mediterranean diet) - the high carb diet increased abdominal fat compared
to the fat-rich diets. Of the three diets, the diet rich in olive oil did
best, preventing not only belly fat ac c u mulation, but the insulin resistance
and drop in adiponectin seen after the high carbohydrate diet meals.
Adiponectin, a hormone produced and secreted by fat cells (adipocytes),
regulates sugar and fat metabolism, improves insulin sensitivity, and has
antiinflammatory effects on the cells lining the blood vessel walls. Low
blood levels of adiponectin are a marker for metabolic syndrome, are common
in obesity, and are also associated with increased heart attack risk.
Your diet supplies not just calories but information. The instructions
delivered to your cells by a Mediterranean-type diet rich in monounsaturated
fat from olive oil and nuts will improve your sensitivity to insulin, lower
your blood sugar, and help prevent fat from collecting around your middle.
(Paniagua JA, Gallego de la Sacristana A, et al., *Diabetes Care*)
As far as other diseases go, regular use of olive oil has been associated
with lower rates of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. The monounsaturated
fats in olive oil are used by the body to produce substances which are
relatively anti-inflammatory. By reducing inflammation, these fats can help
reduce the severity of arthritis symptoms, and may be able to prevent or
reduce the severity of asthma.
Minor components of extra virgin olive oil-namely, its squalene,
beta-sitosterol and tyrosol -may help explain why the Mediterranean diet has
shown such beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and cancer
prevention, suggests a study published in *Free Radical Biology and Medicine
*. It is generally accepted in the medical community that excessive
production of free radicals and inflammatory compounds derived from the
bodys use of omega-6 fatty acids (found primarily in meats, corn, safflower
and sunflower oils) contributes to the development of both cardiovascular
disease and cancer. In this study, researchers tested the effects of
squalene, beta-sitosterol and tyrosol on a number of free radicals as well
as on inflammatory compounds produced from omega-6 fats (arachidonic acid
metabolites). In each case, the olive oil compounds either significantly
inhibited production of the problem-causing molecules or rendered them
Olive Oil Phenols Help Prevent Bone Loss
The bone-sparing effects of olive polyphenols revealed in studies conducted
by a special team at INRA (Frances National Institute for Agricultural
Research) are so dramatic that a new Belgian firm, BioActor, has licensed
INRAs patents to use olive polyphenols for osteoporosis prevention in food,
supplements and herbal medicines.
The World Health Organization calls osteoporosis its biggest global
healthcare problem with aging populations also beset by obesity, a condition
now known to greatly increase inflammation throughout the body, including in
bones where it significantly contributes to osteoporosis. Today, a womans
lifetime risk of osteoporotic fracture is 30-40%, and even men face about a
INRA researchers, inspired by epidemiological evidence that people eating a
traditional Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop osteoporosis,
began investigating the effects of olive oil and different compounds in
olive leaves on bone metabolism.
Their early studies revealed that two olive polyphenols, oleuropin and
hydroxytyrosol, greatly lessen the inflammation-mediated bone loss involved
Then they published research in the *British Journal of Nutrition*, showing
that both oleuropein and olive-oil feeding can prevent inflammation-induced
osteopenia (bone-thinning) in animals whose ovaries have been removed-an
animal model designed to simulate senile osteoporosis, the bone-wasting
condition that affects the elderly, as it combines both hormone deficiency
with chronic inflammation.
Although the animals did not fully recover all their bone density compared
to controls, those rats fed oleuropin (0.15g/kg) or olive-oil (50 g/kg)
daily for 3 months recovered 70-75% of their bone density-a 50% improvement
compared to control animals, which were given 25g/kg peanut oil and 25 g/kg
rapeseed oil daily.
The INRA team, led by Dr. Veronique Coxam, is developing the protocol for a
human study, which, if all goes well, could be started before the end of
Olive Oil Phenols Protect DNA from Free Radical Damage
Extra-virgin olive oil, which, when properly cold pressed and stored in
opaque containers, is naturally high in phenolic compounds with antioxidant
properties, may be one of the key reasons for the lower incidence of cancer
and cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean region, suggests a study
published in the *British Journal of Nutrition*.
This randomized, crossover study involving 10 healthy postmenopausal women
in Florence, Italy, found that when the women consumed extra-virgin olive
oil high in phenols, their DNA experienced a whopping 30% less damage than
that seen when they consumed an olive oil in which the content of phenols,
which can be destroyed by light and heat, was low.
Be sure to buy only cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil sold in an opaque
container or can to prevent its exposure to light and preserve its phenol
Potent Anti-Inflammatory Compound Discovered in Olive Oil
Could olive oil become the new anti-inflammatory standby? Someday soon, your
doctor may recommend you prevent aches and pains, and reduce your risk of
cancer, by telling you to enjoy extra-virgin olive oil with your meals
throughout each day, suggests a study led by Pennsylvania biologist Dr. Gary
Beauchamp and published in *Nature*.
Inspired by a tasting experience at a molecular gastronomy meeting in
Sicily, where he noticed that high quality olive oil produced a
throat-stinging sensation similar to that caused by ibuprofen, Beauchamp and
his team analyzed freshly pressed extra-virgin olive oil and discovered a
compound that suppresses the prostaglandin system, the same pain pathway as
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen.
Although its chemical structure is quite different from the
anti-inflammatory compounds in non-steroidal drugs, olive oils
anti-inflammatory component, which Beauchamp named "oleocanthal," has a
A 50 gram dose (about 4 tablespoons) of extra-virgin olive oil supplies
enough oleocanthal to produce an effect equivalent to that of about 10% of
the ibuprofen dose recommended for adult pain relief.
While this amount wont cure a headache (and most people may not have the
room in their diet for the calories and fat contained in 4 tablespoons of
olive oil), daily consumption of olive oil may prevent inflammation and
confer some of the benefits of long-term ibuprofen use-without the increased
risk of intestinal bleeding and damage to the kidneys that long-term use of
non-steroidal drugs like ibuprofen also carries.
Plus, extra-virgin olive oil can greatly enhance not just your health, but
your enjoyment of your meals throughout the day.
- For a really satisfying breakfast, add a tablespoon of olive oil to
your morning frittata.
- Dress up your luncheon salad with a second tablespoon and a splash of
lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Or place your olive oil and vinegar in a
small dish and enjoy as a flavoring for a slice of crusty whole grain bread.
- Enhance your dinner vegetables with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan
cheese and a third tablespoon of olive oil, and
- Top off your brown rice or pasta.
Scientists believe this finding is significant because inflammation plays a
key role in a variety of chronic diseases. "Some of the health-related
effects of the Mediterranean diet may be due to the activity of oleocanthal
from premium olive oils," said Beauchamp.
Dr Paul Breslin, who directed the research with Beauchamp, added: "The
Mediterranean diet, of which olive oil is a central component, has long been
associated with numerous health benefits, including decreased risk of
stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, and some dementias. Now
that we know of oleocanthals anti-inflammatory properties, it seems
plausible that oleocanthal plays a causal role in the health benefits
associated with diets where olive oil is the principal source of fat."
Although oleocanthal should be present in any extra-virgin olive oil,
concentrations will vary depending upon a range of factors, including the
variety of olive and the age of the olives at pressing.
The best way to check your olive oil for oleocanthal content? "Sip the oil
neat and see how strongly it stings the back of the throat," recommends
Breslin. "The greater the sting, the greater the oleocanthal content."
Note: A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Use extra virgin olive oil in your salad dressings.
Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and extra virgin olive oil together to
make exceptionally delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over healthy sautéed vegetables before
Purée extra virgin olive oil, garlic and your favorite beans together in a
food processor. Season to taste and serve as a dip.
Instead of putting the butter dish out on the table, place a small cup of
extra virgin olive oil out instead to use on your bread or rolls. For extra
flavor, try adding a little Balsamic vinegar or any of your favorite spices
to the extra virgin olive oil.
E-Gurzuf Holding Co.Masterhormones.com 2006