A study, recently published in the JAMA Network Open, presents the first randomized clinical study of the MedDiet done in the US. While the MedDiet has long been known to be heart-healthy, the researchers wanted to learn more specifically, why it is healthier. 25,000 women were followed for 12 years, divided into three groups based on how closely they followed the MedDiet. After 12 years the group that followed the MedDiet the closest showed a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The primary factors for reduced risk were decreased inflammation, better glucose metabolism, and lower weight. Other factors contributing to the better results were lower blood pressure, and lower lipid levels. A great thing about the MedDiet is that it is very easy to follow and very tasty as well.
A recent article in USA Today highlights a Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine study that found extra virgin olive oil helped reduce the conditions associated with Alzheimer’s. They also found evidence that EVOO preserves the ability to learn and improves memory. The mechanism by which this is achieved is EVOO reduces inflammation in the body including in the brain and it enhances the process of removing toxins and debris from our brains. Alzheimer’s is thought to begin by the reduced ability to remove these toxins.
The study was conducted on mice with one group consuming EVOO compared to a control group not consuming EVOO. After a few months the two groups tested the same, however, the differences began to show up after 9 to 12 months. The mice on a EVOO diet had better learning abilities and spatial memory. It seems good nutrition can take a while before we get noticeable changes. Like all good habits using natural methods, the change is slow but reliable.
US News Ranks Popular Diets
US News evaluated the 38 most popular diets with the help of diet and nutritional experts. They rated them in several different categories. The DASH diet ranked number one and the Meditteranean diet ranked number two overall. Both diets use extra virgin olive oil as their primary fat for cooking and adding to recipes. The Meditteranean diet ranked number one as the easiest to follow. The entire study is very interesting, you can read about it here.
The article includes nice recipes from the several different diets. It also ranks diets according to best commercial diets, best diets for diabetes, and several other categories.
Oleocanthal is a polyphenol found in real extra virgin olive oil. It is already well documented as a very effective anti-inflammatory. In a recent study published in Nutrition and Cancer, it was also found to inhibit the growth of melanoma cancer cells. The study introduced concentrated amounts of oleocanthal into normal cells and melanoma cells and found the normal cells’ growth was regular but the melanoma cells’ growth was greatly reduced. The initial thinking is that the oleocanthal upsets the protein strains responsible for melanoma but that are not found in normal cells.
These are just initial experiments and much more study is needed to determine if consuming real extra virgin olive oil can actually have a inhibiting effect on cancerous cells. However, multiple studies in recent years all point in this direction.
A new study from the University of Granada shows that cooking with extra virgin olive oil increases the phenol content over that of the raw vegetable. Some in the past have thought that the cooking process destroys the polyphenols in EVO where this study shows the polyphenols are absorbed by the vegetables. The cooking method that displayed the highest level of increase was deep frying, at the same time it showed the highest increase in fat content. Sauteing in EVO showed a moderate increase in phenol content. While boiling in water showed a decrease in phenol content. While not addressed by the study, the water from boiling vegetables is generally considered to be full of nutrients and can be used beneficially in other ways, such as for soup.
They also found that cooking in EVO actually breaks some bonds that free up more polyphenols. This shows evidence that disputes the theory that the polyphenols in real extra virgin olive oil are destroyed during the cooking process.
The limited supplies of our current oils, harvested and milled in December 2013, are now on sale for only $16.95, first come first served. All these mature oils are still showing well – with good aromas, flavors, and a softer finish than in their youth. In a recent blind tasting, our Sierra compared favorably with a fresh, extra virgin “olio nuovo” from another producer – needless to say, we were pleased.
Although we hope you will enjoy our oils right away, they are known for their long life. Our oils stay fresher longer than other extra virgin olive oils because they start with such healthy, high levels of antioxidants, giving them on-going protection against aging. In the past we have retested our year-old oils, and the reduction of antioxidants over the months was only 5%. Another confirmation comes from research Dr. Prokopios Magiatis conducted on the polyphenol levels of US-made oils, published last year. The year-old oils he tested were bought off supermarket shelves; our Sierra included. The total polyphenol content of our oil was higher than every other oil in the experiment, and the results for some particular polyphenols were the highest he had ever recorded.
Dr. Gary Beauchamp is making the rounds these days speaking about his discovery of the oleocanthal molecule that he found in olive oil a short ten years ago. The discovery, like many great discoveries, was an accident. As a sensory chemist he was searching for a way to improve the taste of ibuprofen when he experienced an olive oil tasting. To his surprise he tasted something in the olive oil that had similarities to the taste of ibuprofen. Further research revealed he had discovered the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory molecule, oleocanthal. Wonderfully, this molecule in olive oil does not have the side effects of ibuprofen. Beauchamp found that oleocanthal can help remove proteins that are the main component of amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer patients. This story reveals that we are still in the early stages of discovering all the great benefits of olive oil that, intuitively, the Mediterranean has known about for thousands of years.
The Harvard School of Public Health held their “Mediterranean Diet and Workplace Health” conference on September 27 and 28 with attendees from all over the world. One focus was the role healthy fats play in the Mediterranean diet and in particular real extra virgin olive oil. Researchers said they identified two previously unknown polyphenols for the first time while testing Apollo Olive Oil’s array of polyphenols. More research needs to be done to discover what role these two new polyphenols play but it points to the abundance of polyphenols found in Apollo Olive Oil.
The researchers further found that polyphenols were much more effective at reducing LDL oxidation working as a whole rather than working alone. This illustrates that whole foods work more synergistically to produce beneficial effects than extracts of ‘active’ ingredients.
The researchers are trying to develop a simple, quick, and inexpensive test to identify olive oils with high polyphenol levels. One reason for this is that consumers are starting to ask for high polyphenol oils more frequently even though these oils are a bit more bitter and pungent. This is good news for us because we base our entire approach on the healthiest oil is also the best tasting.
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to use extra virgin olive oil is to drizzle it over cooked vegetables. Not only does it improve the taste of vegetables but it also improves our ability to absorb the vitamins and antioxidants found in them.
Well there is more good news. A recent study published in the journal PNAS found drizzling extra virgin olive oil over vegetables that contain nitrites forms nitro fatty acids. Vegetables that contain nitrites are mainly the green leafy types like spinach, wild greens and root vegetables. Nitro fatty acids are known to inhibit an enzyme that contributes to high blood pressure. This is a good example of how whole foods and healthy diets work together to promote good health.
A study recently published in Food Chemistry adds valuable information on understanding how phenols reduce inflammation and found that adding phenol-rich olive oil to breakfast successfully lowered the chronic low-grade inflammation associated with metabolic syndrome, and which is a precursor to obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It is estimated that over 30 percent of all adults in the USA have metabolic syndrome.
The study gave 49 metabolic syndrome patients about 2 ½ tablespoons (40 ml) of high, medium, or low levels of phenol olive oil for breakfast. Only the high phenol olive oil (398 ppm) neutralized pro-inflammatory gene expression and reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood plasma. So phenol-rich olive oil has a beneficial effect on both our genes and blood profiles that other extra virgin olive oils may not have.
All our Apollo Olive Oils oils have well over 500 ppm of polyphenols, and some have nearly 1000 ppm. We recommend drizzling Mistral over toast, oatmeal, or eggs in the morning which, according to the study, will help to reduce inflammation. It also it makes breakfast taste better!