Polyphenols are powerful antioxidants that are found in real extra virgin olive oil. Until recently, the main benefit of olive oil was believed to come from its heart-safe monounsaturated fat. However, recent studies have shown that even more health benefits come from the polyphenols and antioxidants in real extra virgin olive oil. Of the thirty or so polyphenols in olive oil, one in particular, hydroxytyrosol, is primarily responsible for the reduction of inflammation. Companies have sprung up to extract hydroxytyrosol from olive oil, to create concentrated medicinal forms of it for sale to the public.
The question naturally arises – Is it better to take a concentrated extract of a single polyphenol, or to get the whole spectrum found in real extra virgin olive oil, which is a natural, raw product? Well, nutrition expert, Prof. John Finley, believes firmly that it is better to get our antioxidants from whole foods rather than from extracts. In general, the different ingredients in whole foods act as catalysts for each other, synergistically giving benefits that outweigh that of taking a singular, concentrated extract. Not to mention that the long-term effects of taking large doses of single compounds is not well understood. In his view, it is better to consume our food the way nature has created it; it is a much more gentle and holistic approach to maintaining good health. Here’s the entire article with Prof. John Finley.
The link below is from an ABC News Health article about a recent study from France that shows a correlation between reduced stroke risk and high consumption of extra virgin olive oil. They studied 7,625 participants over a period of 5.25 years. While they accounted for other dietary factors they mention you cannot separate the fact that extra virgin olive oil makes other foods that are healthy for you taste better so you eat more of them like fruits, vegetable, legumes, and fish. They found that the higher the consumption of extra virgin olive oil the lower the risk of stroke. The study did not distinguish if the olive oil consumed was specifically extra virgin but they noted all olive oil sold in France is extra virgin.
Below is a link to an article stating researchers have found evidence that the Mediterranean diet may help prevent skin cancer. The basic idea is that the diet is based on eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and olive oil which are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants build resistance to the harmful rays of the sun. In the US many of us have greatly reduced our consumption of fresh foods over the years, instead opting for fast and processed foods to accommodate our fast life styles. Thankfully more chefs and foodies are teaching ways to eat fast, fresh, and healthy. Something as simple as eating fresh fruit for snacks instead of candy bars is a good example of changing simple habits to increase our intake of healthy and fresh antioxidants.
Below is another study out of Spain illustrating the beneficial effects of olive oils rich in polyphenols and the Mediterranean diet. However this study claims it is good for you for a surprising reason – it changes how your genes deal with factors connected to atherosclerosis. This study implies that our genes are not predetermined at birth to act only in one way. We can change how our genes function based on good habits in all areas of our life. Because the human species is so adaptable it seems this is the only sensible conclusion and a very positive one at that.
May was Mediterranean food month and the Mediterranean Foods Alliance website had a recipe contest and has posted the winners on their website.
We have mentioned this website before because it is one of the best sites if not the best site for learning about the Mediterranean diet. They have an educational introduction for the beginner, extensive resources for the experienced, lots of wonderful recipes, practical tips for introducing the Mediterranean diet into your diet and much more. This is all presented in a beautifully designed website, well worth the visit.
The article below is about a recent study that found eating the right fats could actually help reduce weight. The basic finding is that oleic acid is transformed in the small intestine into a chemical that sends a signal to the brain that you are full. Olive oil is up to 80% oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fat. The article focuses on the prospect on using this finding to create a new class of anti-obesity drugs. But why not just take the natural drug of real extra virgin olive along with all its other anti-oxidant benefits?
Below is a link to an article about a recent study that indicates olive oil may protect against bowel disease. It found that the oleic acid found in olive oil may aid in blocking chemicals that aid in inflammation that causes the disease. Oleic acid is a mono-unsaturated fat and is the primary fat found in olive oil.
The link below is to a Spanish study that indicates that real extra virgin olive oil is good for your heart because of the phenol compounds. This is similar to a previous article in our blog on real extra virgin olive oil and cancer. This is important because, once again, it is not just because olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat that makes it good for the heart but because real extra virgin olive oil contains phenol compounds. These phenol compounds reduce inflammation which is a major cause of heart disease. And, once again, only real extra virgin olive oil contains phenol compounds.
Read the article
Below is a link to a recent study done at Harvard University that found replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats may reduce your risk of heart disease by 20 percent more than just reducing fat intake. This is significant because it implies the low-fat craze is not the healthiest approach. Our body needs fats so why not consume healthy fats. Extra virgin olive oil has both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and is one of the healthiest fats around. One fun way of replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats is to replace butter with real extra virgin olive oil in desserts. We have a wonderful carrot cake recipe on our site that does exactly this and it is yummy. You can find the recipe here.
Read the article.
Below is a link to a recent study that is the first of its kind to investigate the effect of different components of the Mediterranean diet. They looked at large samples of people who loosely followed the Mediterranean diet but at the same time left out certain components of it. What they found is not surprising. The major benefit of the diet occurs when all elements are included. In other words it is very synergistic. Our modern tendency is to seek single ‘active ingredients’ and turn them into drugs. However this study suggests that a whole range of beneficial eating habits is what does the trick. The most important components were moderate intake of alcohol and a low consumption of meat, with a high intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, olive oil and legumes. Read the article.