(NaturalHealth365) Having just returned from Italy to soak up some food culture, I can safely say the Italians are enjoying the tremendous health benefits of olive oil. Referred to as the “Queen of oils,” olive oil possesses biologically active phenolic compounds which most well-established research has focused on.
Associated with decreased cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis along with a lowered incidence of certain types of cancer, the Mediterranean diet owes many of these health benefits to the regular consumption of olive oil.
Longevity science says ‘yes’ to olive oil
Want to lower your mortality risk? Longevity medicine has always credited the significant role the Mediterranean diet plays at staving off many potentially life-shortening and life-threatening diseases like, cancer.
While the exact mechanism of action is not known, a study following approximately 40,600 participants aged 26-69 over four years showed that regular consumption of either virgin or extra virgin olive oil reduced overall risk for mortality including cardiovascular accident.
Cardiovascular and oxidative damage slashed with regular olive oil consumption
Continued consumption of virgin olive oil promotes HDL stability and improves plasma lipoproteins. In a first time ever study, it was found that HDL particles increased in size while triglyceride levels dropped in subjects; advancing atherogenic activity.
In another study focusing on the molecular mechanisms of inflammation, researchers pinpointed the phenolic compound, oleocanthal as eliciting similar effects to the anti-inflammatory effects of ibuprofen. Unlike the pervasive side effects of NSAIDS, olive oil, when properly combined with other foods confers superior anti-inflammatory protection.
Plus, if you want to protect your brain while preventing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism concluded that consuming virgin olive oil prevented oxidative stress that influences these health concerns.
Protect your immune system with olive oil
Good news for peptic ulcer sufferers – researchers were able to demonstrate that virgin olive oil exerted significant antimicrobial effects against eight strains of H. Pylori, the bacteria responsible for causing peptic ulcers. Three of the strains are resistant to antibiotic treatment.
Because certain strains of H. Pylori are linked to stomach cancer, these findings are driving further research into virgin olive oil’s antimicrobial properties.
Can olive oil be good for bone health?
Olive oil consumed for two consecutive years among study participants was found to reduce the likelihood of developing osteoporosis. Researchers observed stronger bones as a result of an increase in osteocalcin and bone collagen synthesis.
The skin saving virtues of olive oil
While you need the sun to produce vitamin D, too much causes photoaging of the skin. Photoaging or, sun exposure causes pigmentation abnormalities and wrinkling which “age” the skin. However, according to a study observing men and women, the higher your monounsaturated fat intake is from olive oil, the less overall photoaging you may experience.
Remember that light and oxygen are the enemies of olive oil. So, store olive oil in an airtight, opaque, glass container for optimal freshness.
About the author: Christine M. Dionese L.Ac, MSTOM is an integrative health expert, medical journalist and food writer. She’s dedicated her career to helping others understand the science of happiness and its powerful effects on everyday human health. Christine practices, writes and speaks on environmental functional medicine, personalized medicine and epigenetics, food science and sustainable living.