OLIVE OIL HEALTH BENEFITS
The health benefits of olive oil are unrivaled, and research reveals more benefits nearly every day. In fact, we are only just beginning to understand the countless ways olive oil can improve our health, and our lives. Olive oil is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet — an essential nutritional mainstay for the world’s longest-living cultures.
Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time it does not alter the levels of HDL-cholesterol (and may even raise them), which plays a protective role and prevents the formation of fatty patches, thus stimulating the elimination of the low-density lipoproteins.
Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which doesn’t oxidize in the body, and it’s low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize.
The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.
It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower “bad” low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.
A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and so plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.
Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Although high in calories, olive oil has shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatiod arthritis.
OLIVE OIL DIET REDUCES RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES
Traditionally a low-fat diet has been prescribed to prevent various diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. While studies have shown that high fat diets may increase the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it appears that it is the type of fat that counts rather than the amount of fat. We now know that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as the ones found in olive oil, nuts and seeds actually protects from many of these chronic diseases.
A study published in the scientific journal Diabetes Care showed that a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil reduced the risk of type II diabetes by almost 50 percent compared to a low fat diet. Type II diabetes is the most common and preventable form of diabetes.
OLIVE OIL MIGHT HELP PREVENT STROKES
Older individuals who consume olive oil daily may be able to protect themselves from a stroke, according to a new study from France published in the online issue of Neurology.
Researchers gathered information from the medical records of 7,625 individuals over the age of 65 from three cities in France: Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier. None of the participants had a history of stroke. They then categorized the individuals into three groups based on their olive oil consumption. The researchers noted that the participants used mostly extra virgin olive oil, as that is what is usually available in France.
After 5 years there were 148 strokes. The results showed that the “intensive” users of olive oil, those that used for both cooking and dressings had a 41 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those that did not use olive oil at all. These results were noted even after considering weight, diet, physical activity and other risk factors.
OLIVE OIL MAY PROTECT FROM DEPRESSION
It is common knowledge that olive oil and the Mediterranean diet confer a multitude of health benefits. But what about emotional health benefits?
According to Spanish researchers from the University of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a diet rich in olive oil can protect from mental illness.
Researchers recently discovered that a higher intake of olive oil and polyunsaturated fats found in fatty fish and vegetable oils was associated with a lower risk of depression.
The findings suggested that cardiovascular disease and depression may share some common mechanisms related to one’s diet.
OLIVE OIL FOUND TO HELP PREVENT SKIN CANCER
Another recent study found that olive oil, along with other components of a Mediterranean diet, may contribute to the prevention of malignant melanoma. The most dangerous type of skin cancer may be slowed down by consumption of olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants, the researchers found.
The use of sunscreen remains the best way to prevent sunburn and shield the skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. However, “Going Greek” and consuming olive oil and other Mediterranean food staples, could help counter the oxidizing effect of the sun.
Only three in every 100,000 residents of countries in the Mediterranean develop any form of skin cancer. The figure is low, especially when considering the warm climate in the region. In Australia, the figure is 50 in every 100,000 residents.
THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND METABOLIC SYNDROME
The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been cited in numerous studies, and now with a new large study confirming that it protects from metabolic syndrome we have yet another reason to adopt this style of eating.
The metabolic syndrome is a combination of abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, and high blood sugar. “Metabolic syndrome is connected to the obesity epidemic of our time, a big belly poisons our metabolism and a poisoned metabolism can result in type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, or sudden death,” a leading researcher noted.
The new study found that a Mediterranean-style diet — which includes olive oil, daily consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals, and low-fat dairy products, weekly consumption of ﬁsh, poultry, legumes, and a relatively low consumption of red meat — can reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome.
Articles and reference information: Olive Oil Times