Olive Oil Health Benefits
Back in the 1960s a study conducted in seven countries1 (Greece. Italy, Yugoslavia. The Netherlands, Finland, USA, Japan) by the the American epidemiologist Ancei Keys shows evidence that mortality from coronary heart disease is low in countries where olive oil is consumed on daily basis.
Olive oil appears to have a protective role on patients who have already suffered a myocardial infarction. Scientific data obtained from study2 CARDIO 2000, indicated that the exclusive use of olive oil in cooking preparations confers significant protection against coronary heart disease. Earlier, scientists3 from the University of Navarra in Spain had shown that olive oil consumption in specified amounts (average intake of 54 grams a day), lead to a 82% decrease relative risk for myocardial appearance.
Most recent data presented by the European Prospective Investigation EPIC (European Prospective Investigatic into Cancer and Nutrition)4, confirms that olive oil consumption is associated with reduction of coronary events. The consumption of olive oil seems to help prevent cardiovascular diseases through various mechanisms such as: i) the improvement of the lipid profile, mainly through increasing HDL ( "good" cholesterol), ii) reducing the oxidation of LDL ( "bad" cholesterol) resulting in the protection of vessels from damage caused by oxidation, iii) the promotion of endothelial function (imagine the endothelium as the "lining" of the blood vessels) and iv) the control of blood pressure.
SHIELD AGAINST BREAD CANCER
A recent study of Spanish researchers shows that daily consumption of four soup spoons of extra virgin olive oil, reduces by 68% the risk of breast cancer. The study5 was conducted by the University of Navarra in collaboration with the Biomedical Research Centre in Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBERobn).
This is the first scientific work demonstrated by testing the preventive value of the Mediterranean diet against breast cancer, as all studies up to now were based only on observation.
The Predimed study has not reached its end, as the researchers intend to investigate the beneficial properties of extra virgin olive oil on other forms of cancer.
SHIELD FOR THE LARGE INTESTINE
Colorectal cancer is the world's third most common form of cancer in men and second in women. More than 1.2 million new cases of this form of cancer occur every year. One of the key preventive strategies on nutrition and reducing the likelihood that cancer develops is the low consumption of red meat and products (such as sausages). Scientists at the University of Oxford6 showed that, besides low consumption of red meat, to reduce the risk for colorectal cancer substantially, high olive oil consumption is recommended. In fact the same researchers presented the possible action mechanism behind this observation and indicated that, although for Greece they expected higher rates of colon cancer, due to frequent consumption of red meat (which signals the need for nutritional recovery our Mediterranean roots), this was not verified. These lower rates of colon cancer development is credited to olive oil consumption. Olive oil seems to protect us from other bad habits.
PREVENTION OF ULCER
Helicobacter pylori is considered a key culprit for peptic ulcer. Two studies conducted by Spanish researchers7 support the hypothesis that olive oil can contribute to the eradication of Helicobacter pylori, thereby treating ulcer cases. In people who have been infected by this bacterium, 30 g. of olive oil were enough to cure them. This effect appears to be due to olive oil phenolic substances, first and foremost the ligstrosidi.
OLIVE OIL AND DIABETES
According to a new research the Mediterranean diet, with emphasis on extra virgin olive oil, could potentially protect people whith increased risk of heart disease against type 2 diabetes.This new study8 showed that those who followed a Mediterranean diet were 30% less likely to develop diabetes over the next four years, compared with those who followed a low fat diet.
The investigator Salas-Salvado, nutrition professor at the Rovira i Virgili University, Spain, said that sample testing showed that lifestyle interventions that promote weight loss can reduce the appearance of type 2 diabetes. However it was not previously clear if eating changes without limiting calorie consumption or increased exercise also protect against diabetes.Previous studies, including one by Salas-Salvado, suggested that the Mediterranean diet may possibly be protective against diabetes.
OLIVE OIL AND FRYING
While several studies show that the classic frying is not the most appropriate culinary preparation (particularly when certain conditions are not met), the unrepentant frying enthusiasts are certain that frying with olive oil and a little knowledge can ensure their health.
First thing to know is that every oil we use in cooking should not be heated beyond the smoke point. The evaporation point is that temperature at which the oil will begin to decompose evaporate. The evaporation point, of a virgin olive oil is close to 210 ° C, a temperature higher than that of frying (about 180 °C), and this is an advantage for olive oil.
Second element of great importance is that the cooking way plays an essential role in any nutritional-quality degradation of the oil. Thus, the deep frying (deep frying, use enough oil and the food is immersed in it) in contrast to the shallow frying (pan frying, the oil level does not exceed the height of the food) results in less degradation of olive oil9.
Third, and equally important is the fact that the prolonged cooking time and, of course, the repeated use of the same oil for frying (more than twice), are two aggravating factors for the quality of olive oil.
Finally, based on the results of scientific studies9 that have been presented for the different cooking conditions of olive oil, it can be concluded that, compared with other vegetable oils, olive oil has a good heat resistance.
- Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2000; 54:756-760 2