Olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean Diet and is considered to be a natural health food product. In fact, consuming just two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil every day can lead to a healthier lifestyle in many ways.
The United States Dietary Guideline Advisory Committee (DGAC) in Washington, D.C., recently released new dietary guidelines for the Mediterranean diet in its 2015 Scientific Report. In the 805 page report, it was recommended that Americans should follow the Mediterranean dietary model for better health. The 2015 DGAC Report is designed to provide Americans with the best dietary recommendations from 14 leading experts in nutrition.
The experts concluded that eating high quantities of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seafood constitute a healthy diet. All the recommended foods are staples in the Mediterranean Diet.
Why is extra virgin olive oil so good for you? Olive oil is simply healthier than other oils. Olive oil has the highest level of oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat) found in any edible oil, making it the healthiest oil in your diet.
According to Olive Oil Times Health Editor Elena Paravantes, “Olive oil is truly liquid gold with its many health benefits. Considered the most important component of the traditional Mediterranean Diet, this extraordinary fruit juice and its effects are still not fully understood. Yet some of the ways olive oil can preserve and improve human health have been firmly established.” According to Paravantes, there are at least five scientifically supported health benefits of consuming olive oil.
- Olive Oil Can Help Lower Your “Bad” Cholesterol – Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL), also known as the “bad cholesterol,” transports and deposits cholesterol in the tissues and arteries, which can eventually cause plaque and block the arteries. Monounsaturated fats can lower LDL, thus protecting against atherosclerosis. High Density Lipoproteins (HDL) known as the “good cholesterol” carry all cholesterol away from the arteries leading to a decreased risk of heart disease.
It is important to note that to achieve this reduction in bad cholesterol, you cannot just add olive oil to a diet rich in saturated and trans fats and expect a miracle. You must replace the unhealthy fats with olive oil in combination with a Mediterranean diet.
- Olive Oil Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure – Several studies for different age groups, and with a large number of participants, have found that consumption of olive oil is associated with a decrease in blood pressure. One recent U.S. study of over 6,000 participants found that olive oil intake reduced the incidence of hypertension in men and women. Researchers have demonstrated that oleic acid, a fatty acid in olive oil, induces this lowering effect.
- Eating Olive Oil Can Help Prevent Certain Types of Cancer – Nineteen observational studies, with over 26,000 participants, found that higher rates of olive oil consumption were associated with lower odds of having any type of cancer. These studies concluded that “preferring olive oil to other added lipids, particularly those rich in saturated fats, can reduce the risk of upper digestive and respiratory tract neoplasms, breast and colorectal and possibly other cancer sites.”
- Olive Oil Protects From Oxidative Damage—Polyphenols, found in olive oils, are phytochemical components that have antianxiety activity in the body. Olive oil contains certain polyphenols that, alOong with oleic acid, protect the oxidation of LDL cholesterol in the body. Olive oil’s polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids from “oxidative stress”.
<![if !supportLists]>5. <![endif]>Olive Oil Can Help Cognitive Function—There is an emerging amount of clinical research regarding the effect lf olive oil on cognitive function and, specifically, on cognitive decline associated with aging. An ongoing multicenter study of vascular risk factors for dementia using information from nearly 7,000 patients, showed that individuals who had moderate to intensive use of olive oil had lower odds of cognitive deficit for verbal fluency and verbal memory compared to individuals who had never used olive oil in their daily diets.
How Much Of A Good Thing?
It is highly recommended after decades of research that two to three tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil every day will provide the protective effects mentioned above.
How Can You Be Certain That the Olive Oil You Are Buying is Providing All of the Health Benefits of a True Fresh Extra Virgin Olive oil?
This is a question that will be answered in great detail in a future column. For now, I would recommend that you only purchase olive oil for a reliable source that allows you to “try before you buy.” Ask questions of your olive oil provider who can explain where their olive oil comes from and how best to use it.
One excellent source to learn more about buying world class olive oil locally is at www.Truthinoliveoil.com. On the site, click on the Great Olive Oils Of the World tab. FBN
Mike Kilpatrick is the owner of Olive Oil Traders, 18 E Birch Ave, Flagstaff, 928-773-9900. Find out more at www.oliveoiltraders.com.