Nutritional scientists recognize that one of the most impactful ways you can protect yourself against degenerative disease and premature death is by consuming a Mediterranean-style diet. The Mediterranean diet features Olive Oil as the prominent source of dietary fat.
Olive Oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fats, which are know to reduce the risk of heart disease by decreasing levels of artery-clogging lipids in the blood. In addition, Olive Oil is a quality source of polyphenols — powerful antioxidants that are always attracting attention for their ability to promote exceptional health.
Recent research recommends that by incorporating healthful virgin Olive Oil in your daily diet, you may be able to protect yourself against not only cardiovascular disease, as well as cancer and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
While many Olive Oils press the supermarket shelves, studies suggest that unrefined virgin Olive Oil may offer the greatest health-promoting benefits due to its high content of beneficial polyphenols.
Promoting Cardiovascular Health
A good amount of evidence supports the role of virgin olive oil in protecting against cardiovascular disease. And even though it has long been known that Olive Oil helps decrease total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels, new research is opening up the light on its additional cardiovascular benefits.
A recent study set out to measure the effects of three different classes of olive oil (containing low, medium, or high content of polyphenols) on plasma lipid levels and measures of oxidative stress.
In this study, 200 healthy men were randomly assigned to consume 25 mL of each type of Olive Oil each day for three weeks, preceded by a two-week washout period.
Levels of LDL, HDL, blood sugar, triglycerides, and oxidative stress markers were measured following each intervention. While triglyceride levels reduced similarly with all three types of Olive Oil, the polyphenol-rich virgin Olive Oil created the greatest improvements in HDL level and the most drastic decreases in oxidative stress markers.
Staving Off Cancer
Epidemiological studies have long recommended that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in Olive Oil is associated with a reducing risk of numerous types of cancer.
Scientists have proposed that a handful of constituents of Olive Oil may be responsible for its anti-cancer effects. These include its antioxidant polyphenols as well as the lipid oleic acid, which is highly resistant to peroxidation.
Recently, oncology researchers were thrilled to discover that oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid in Olive Oil, may fight cancer by interacting with the human genome.
Oleic acid actually works to suppress the over-expression of a well-characterized oncogene that plays a key role in the etiology, invasive progression, and metastasis of several human cancers.
This incredible discovery could lead to the development of novel olive-oil-based cancer therapeutics.
Selecting and Using Olive Oil
Most of the world’s Olive Oil is developed in the Mediterranean regions of Greece, Spain, France, and Italy. An assortment of Olive Oil are available in grocery stores. The quality of Olive Oil is dependent on its acid content, expressed as oleic acid — the more refining or filtering it goes through, the higher the acid level. The greener the oil, the less acid it contains.
Virgin Olive Oils are deep gold to brilliant green in color. Virgin Olive Oils come from the first pressing of the olives, and contain no more than 2% acidity. They are considered to have a superior taste compared to refined olive oils.
Virgin Olive Oil contains no refined oil. Given all the evidence about the health benefits of polyphenol-rich olive oil, it is worth the extra cost to purchase virgin olive oil.
Exposure to light and heat can cause Olive Oil to turn rancid. Our Olive Oil Experts recommend that you make sure to store it in a cool place and keep it in an opaque bottle.