(NaturalHealth365) The standard American diet is dangerously high in unhealthy fats. Despite increasingly urgent calls by the medical and natural health communities to reverse this deadly trend, for the most part it continues unabated.
This high fat diet has serious consequences, including increased risk of heart disease, insulin resistance and liver disease. A new study has discovered, however, that extra virgin olive oil could reverse many of the effects of too much fat in the diet.
The dangers of a high fat diet
Two of the most damaging effects of a high fat diet are insulin resistance and liver disease.
Insulin is a hormone which allows your cells to utilize sugar for energy. A diet high in fat and sugar wreaks havoc on the body’s ability to use insulin effectively, resulting in dangerous levels of sugar in the blood. These elevated blood sugar levels will initially result in prediabetes, and eventually in full-blown type 2 diabetes.
Non-alcoholic liver disease is a dangerous condition in which people who do not drink much alcohol but have a high fat diet start storing too much fat in their liver cells. Certain forms of this disease can lead to liver inflammation, which in turn can result in scarring and even irreversible liver damage similar to that experienced by heavy drinkers.
Hydroxytyrosol: A polyphenol with miraculous healing properties
An exciting study by researchers from the University of Chile, published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, offers new hope in the fight against these deadly diseases. These researchers discovered that there is a polyphenol compound in extra virgin olive oil called hydroxytyrosol that can actually reverse both insulin resistance and liver disease.
For their study, the scientists divided mice into four groups of between 12 and 14 per group. Some of the groups were fed a high fat diet (HFD) of around 60 percent fat, while control groups were put on a diet consisting of about 10 percent fat. Some of the mice were given an oral supplement of 5mg of hydroxytyrosol, while others were not. The experiment was conducted over a 12-week period.
When blood and tissue samples were taken from the mice at the end of the study, the researchers determined (unsurprisingly) that the high fat diet had increased levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), with no effect on HDL cholesterol (the good kind). These mice also showed increased evidence of insulin resistance.
In the mice on the high fat diet who were also given the hydroxytyrosol supplement, however, these effects were reduced to a large extent.
“Our results indicate that hydroxytyrosol may be a key part of the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil,” said Dr. Rodrigo Valenzuela, lead author of the study. “We have demonstrated that this compound may offer protection against oxidative stress and detrimental fatty acid composition in the liver, heart and brain caused by a high-fat diet.”
The right olive oil makes all the difference
This doesn’t mean, however, that you can trust any olive oil labeled “extra virgin” to offer these health benefits.
Investigations in Europe have uncovered a highly sophisticated criminal ring involved in the production of olive oil, particularly in Italy. Certain suppliers have been found to add dangerous coloring chemicals to their oils, while others have been “stretching” their high quality extra virgin olive oil by diluting it with inferior oils like canola and soybean oil.
While this fact could sway some consumers away from purchasing olive oil, the truth is that its health benefits are so miraculous that it is worth finding a trustworthy local organic supplier. The California Olive Oil Council is an excellent source of information in this regard.