Being originally from Spain my compatriots will be disappointed if i do not dedicate one of my blogs to this wonder of nature. Olive oil, which is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids, is a major component of the Mediterranean diet. Mediterranean Population have longer life expectancies and lower risks of heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, compared with North Americans and Northern Europeans. Monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) are considered a healthy dietary fat, as opposed to saturated fats and trans fats.
what is olive oil?
Olive oil is a fat obtained from the fruit of the Olea europaea (olive tree), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean region, where whole olives are pressed to produce olive oil. The oil is used in cosmetics, medicine, cooking and soaps, and was also used as a fuel for traditional lamps. Although originating in the Mediterranean countries, today it is used worldwide. Spain is the number one producer of olive oil in the world. In 2010, more than 45% of global olive oil production came from Spain. Spaniards, Greeks and Italians are the bigger consumers. Over the last 50 years, there have been thousands of studies examining the health benefits of olive oil.
Health benefits of olive oil
- Less cardiovascular risk. Olive oil is the main source of dietary fat in the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a low death rate from cardiovascular diseases compared to other parts of the world. Numerous studies have found that people who regularly consume olive oil are much less likely to develop cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension (high blood pressure), stroke, and hyperlipidemia (high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels). Regular olive oil intake helps reduce inflammation, endothelial dysfunction (problems with the inner linings of blood vessels), thrombosis and carbohydrate metabolism. Even frying with olive oil does not raise heart disease risk. People who regularly eat foods fried in olive oil do not have a higher risk of heart disease or premature death, researchers have found.
- Prevent stroke. Research have found that olive oil may prevent strokes in older people. Older people who regularly used olive oil for cooking and salad dressing or with bread had a 41% lower risk of stroke, compared with their counterparts who never consumed it.
- Lower depression risk. People whose diets are high in trans fats (fast foods and mass-produced foods like pastries) may have a higher risk of depression, compared with those whose diets are rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil appears to have a slight protective effect regarding depression risk. These findings stood even after taking into account people's overall diet, physical activity and lifestyle. The amount of trans fat consumed was directly related to depression risk, the more they ate, the higher the risk.
- Reduction of breast cancer risk. Studies found a key mechanism by which virgin olive oil protects the body against breast cancer, in contrast to other vegetable oils. The researchers decoded a complete cascade of signals within the cells of breast tumors that are activated by virgin olive oil. Oil reduces the activity of p21Ras, an oncogene, prevents DNA damage, encourages tumor cell death, and triggers changes in protein signaling pathways. Research found that while corn oil, which is rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, increased the aggressiveness of tumors, virgin olive oil had the opposite effect. They demonstrated that virgin olive oil is linked to a higher incidence of benign (non-cancerous) breast tumors.
- Maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels. Studies showed that LDL-cholesterol mean concentrations were lowered in outpatients who were given olive oil supplements once a day for six weeks. LDL(low density lipoprotein) is often referred to as "bad cholesterol". The "good cholesterol" is called HDL (high density lipoprotein). These results point to an overwhelmingly beneficial influence of olive oil on the lipoprotein spectrum.
- Protection against alzheimer's disease. Oleocanthal is a type of natural phenolic compound found in extra-virgin olive oil. Researchers discovered that oleocanthal helps shuttle the abnormal Alzheimer's disease proteins out of the brain. Alzheimer's disease rates are lower in Mediterranean countries, where consumption of olive oil is higher than anywhere else in the world. Oleocanthal might help reduce the accumulation of beta-amyloid, believed to be the culprit of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Extra-virgin olive oil-derived oleocanthal associated with the consumption of Mediterranean diet has the potential to reduce the risk of AD or related neurodegenerative dementias.
- Prevent acute pancreatitis. Extra virgin olive oil is rich in oleic acid and hydroxytyrosol, which affect the development of acute pancreatitis (sudden inflammation of the pancreas). Researchers found that the components of extra virgin olive oil can protect from acute pancreatitis.
- Liver protection. Extra virgin olive oil may protect the liver from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress refers to cell damage associated with the chemical reaction between free radicals and other molecules in the body. Oxidative stress means cell damage. Studies shows that laboratory rats exposed to a moderately toxic herbicide that were fed on a diet containing olive oil were partially protected from liver damage.
- Protection from ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis, a fairly common long-term (chronic) disorder, is a disease that causes inflammation of the large intestine (colon). It is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that is similar to Crohn's disease, a related disorder. Studies showed that consuming more olive oil could help fend off ulcerative colitis. Participants with the highest intake of oleic acid (a component of olive oil) had a 90% lower risk of developing ulcerative colitis compared to those with the lowest intake. Oleic acid seems to help prevent the development of ulcerative colitis by blocking chemicals in the bowel that aggravate the inflammation found in this illness. Estimation was that around half of the cases of ulcerative colitis could be prevented if larger amounts of oleic acid were consumed. Two-to-three tablespoons of olive oil per day would have a protective effect.
Olive oil caveats
Like butter and margarine, oils used in cooking, baking, and salad dressings can blow your fat budget in a hurry. Many people are confused about oils because liquid vegetable oils have long been promoted as being very healthy. Which is true ..... we already have pointed out all the benefits of olive olive above. However, unfortunately, many people also assume that these products are low in total fat and calories, and therefore may be used liberally. Not so. Either on fitness or weight loss programs or even normal healthy style conducts, the fact is that all oils are pure fat so you should have them with caution. Just one tablespoon of any oil has 13.6 grams of fat and 120 calories. So you must watch its consumption if you are conscious about being fit or having a healthy weight.
"My advice on this is just adding half to one spoon of olive oil to each of your meals to guarantee a healthy eating style without overpassing your recommended calorie intake.
Here is another trick … Nonstick Vegetable Oil Cooking Spray"
Sprays are available unflavored and in butter, olive oil, and garlic flavors. The advantage to using them is that the amount that comes out during a one-second spray is so small that it adds an insignificant amount of fat to a recipe. Nonstick cooking sprays are very useful to the low-fat cook, as they promote the browning of foods and also prevent foods from sticking to pots and pans.
"About Olive Oil", North American Olive Oil Association.
"Olive oil and the cardiovascular system", Maria-Isabel Covas, Pharmacological Research 55 (2007) 175–186. 2007. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2007.01.010.
"Dietary supplementation with olive oil leads to improved lipoprotein spectrum and lower n-6 PUFAs in elderly subjects", Haban P, Klvanova J and Zidekova E, Nagyova A. Medical Science Monitor 2004 Apr;10(4):PI49-54.
"Olive oil: what are the health benefits". Mayo Clinic
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