Olive Oil for Health!

by Steven Carney on January 3, 2013

Although I’ve included olive oil in previous posts on nutrition and health, I’d like to cover some of the unique benefits of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) in more detail. The “extra virgin” designation is important because those first olive pressings provide the highest quality and antioxidant/phenol content, including a newly discovered one called oleocanthal.

EVOO’s unique polyphenols and antioxidants, including vitamin E, contribute to the oil’s enhanced health benefits compared to most veggie oils (corn, soy, etc.), which are more refined, processed and often lacking in the same benefits.

Remember that olives are fruits. Although they are often brined to make them more palatable, they are still a fruit! EVOO is made from the first, cold-pressed olive fruit, without chemicals, high temperature or additives.

EVOO has several key compounds and antioxidants, including:

  • A Glycerol component, high in healthy monounsaturated fats (MUFA) and oleic acid
  • A non-glycerol component with up to 36 antioxidant compounds
  • Three of the key compounds are: hydroxytyrosol, tyrosol, and oleuropein
  • The newest compound is oleocanthal
  • Oleocanthal has anti-inflammatory properties similar to pain killers like ibuprofen

EVOO (used without heating or frying) offers health benefits for a range of chronic conditions and functions, such as:

  • Atherosclerosis
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Improved cholesterol
  • Lower inflammation
  • Extra Antioxidants
  • Improved platelet/anti-clotting activity
  • Antimicrobial properties
  • Digestive health
  • Bone health

As you can see, this list has impressive health benefits for EVOO and is supported by research into the Mediterranean diet and health/longevity, as well as research into the various compounds in olive oil.

Beware of old, misleading claims

I’ve seen several references and summaries for an unpublished, flawed study by Dr. Vogel. He did a small study in 2000 with only 10 subjects (good studies have hundreds or thousands of subjects). The study was built around dipping wheat bread in several oils for comparison, mixing the bread carbs with oils in the blood tests. The study claimed that olive oil caused artery constriction but it’s known that wheat bread often spikes blood glucose (it has a higher glycemic index than sucrose), and that can contribute to arterial constriction.

Another small, biased study had people eat 5 teaspoons of olive oil or 8 walnuts after eating a salami and cheese sandwich on white bread, (what?), then claiming the olive oil didn’t relax the subjects arteries (although it did help prevent inflammation and oxidation). But it too was a very flawed study design so I don’t find it credible! For me, the results don’t have any meaning because I don’t recommend that people eat a salami and cheese sandwich on white bread (it will cause spikes in blood glucose which will, again, cause artery constriction)!

By the way, neither of these small, poorly designed studies was published in a journal, yet the questionable findings have been embraced my many in the medical profession, again showing their gross ignorance of nutrition and a healthy oil like EVOO!

A more credible study:

A comprehensive review of olive oil benefits from 2010 concluded this:

“In experimental studies (in vivo and in vitro), olive oil phenolic compounds have been shown to beneficially alter lipid composition, platelet and cellular function, microbial activity and bone formation, as well as reduce oxidative damage and inflammation. The modes of action detailed in the paper, may explain the low rate of diet-related diseases amongst populations residing in the Mediterranean region.” (See first link below for more.)

How much to use?

EVOO is a healthy fat but like all fats, use sparingly! Most adults only need 4-5 tablespoons of total fat daily, so for olive oil, aim for 1-2 tablespoons depending on your total fat intake. Also, it’s best to use the oil without heat as that can compromise many of the health benefits (don’t use for frying). It’s best used to dress or moisten salads (with lemon juice or vinegar), veggies, lean meats, or to make other cold sauces.

If you’ve ever tasted EVOO, it can have a slightly peppery or spicy flavor. That’s the oleocanthal coming though and a good sign that the olive oil has some good antioxidants!

Helpful links:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2852848/

http://www.researchgate.net/publication/50890615_Molecular_Mechanisms_of_Inflammation._Anti-Inflammatory_Benefits_of_Virgin_Olive_Oil_and_the_Phenolic_Compound_Oleocanthal 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22872323

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22914255

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21443487

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22855341

http://www.livestrong.com/article/547714-the-effects-of-glucose-on-arterial-walls/

http://www.endsicknessnow.com/the-skinny-on-fats

http://suite101.com/article/olives-in-provence-vitamin-rich-for-well-being-a117873

http://science.discovery.com/tv-shows/how-its-made/videos/how-its-made-virgin-olive-oil.htm

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=111

I saw this research on 3/14/13 and thought it offered more fascinating insights and benefits of olive oil:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130314124616.htm

3/22/13 update: A study which found that oleocanthal also looks promising for removing Alzheimer’s plaques in mice:

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Olive-oil-compound-may-help-in-Alzheimer-s-battle-Study

© 2013 by Steve Carney/End Sickness Now

{ 1 comment }

オークリー サングラス March 18, 2013 at 11:24 AM

In addition they say it could mean less hunger, so it is really healthy!

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