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Olive oil benefits

Oil and Healthy life

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the most basic elements of the Mediterranean diet, universally recognized on the top of the list among healthiest diets and was declared as part of World Heritage of Humanity on November 2010.

As a consequence of constant medical research, the health and nutrition properties of extra virgin olive oil were authoritatively confirmed and its consumption has greatly increased all over the world.
Indeed olive oil is an important food component, characterized by its high content of monounsaturated-fat and antioxidant elements such as polyphenols, vitamins and carotene. Today we know that it is also most effective in keeping body weight under control, in regulating oxidant processes and preventing atherosclerosis.
It is also particularly recommended for child as well as for the elderly nutrition and also for those practicing sports, due to its being very easily digestible, its containing antioxidants helpful in lowering the production of prostaglandins and its capacity to facilitate the absorbing of salts and vitamins A, C and E.
Nutritionists suggest the use of olive oil, particularly the extra virgin type, in order to improve the taste of food and improve the consumers’ health.
It is an oil which will not spoil, even when fried, as it happens instead with other types of oil that produce peroxides and polymers which are most dangerous to the liver, the stomach and the circulatory system.
In this context, NFI – Nutrition Foundation of Italy – points out two recent scientific researches which confirm the beneficial effects of extra virgin olive oil as part of the Mediterranean Diet ( based on vegetable food and rich in dried fruits, fish, white meat, with olive oil as main dressing and seasoning ingredient, moderate alcohol consumption) in order to keep a good health and wellness, particularly important for the prevention of obesity and atherosclerosis.
The first such scientific research*, published on the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the effects of the Mediterranean Diet enriched by extra virgin olive oil were evaluated, with special reference to corporal weight and the oxidant processes triggered on by the insurgence of obesity. Researchers selected 187 people subject to elevated risks of cardiovascular decease. They were subdivided into three groups in a randomized system. For three consecutive years they were nourishing themselves exclusively with a type of Mediterranean Diet or simply with a very low supply of fats, or enriched with dried fruits ( nuts, hazelnuts and almonds), or integrated with extra virgin olive oil. At the beginning of the Diet as well as at the end of three years of treatment they all had their anthropometric parameters measured ( body weight, index of corporeal mass, abdominal circumference) and the total antioxidant capacity of blood plasma (TAC).
After examining the results it emerged that the total antioxidant capacity of the blood plasma was significantly stronger within the group which followed the Diet with extra virgin olive oil in it and also in the one reinforced with dry fruit, in comparison with the control group. In particular, at the end of the third year of observation, it was clear that in those patients who followed the Mediterranean Diet comprising the extra virgin olive oil, on top of the elevated total antioxidant capacity contained by the blood plasma, also had a grater reduction of the body weight.
These observations lead to the conclusion that adding the extra virgin olive oil to a type of Mediterranean Diet increases the antioxidant power within the organism and positively influences the body weight. These are very relevant elements with regards to preventing cardiovascular diseases, most particularly in subjects at risk.
The second scientific study**, published on Atherosclerosis, made the comparison between the short term effects of the pro atherogenic genes in two of the traditional Mediterranean Diets respectively enriched by dry fruit and extra virgin olive oil, compared with a standard control diet with reduced lipoid content (according to the instructions of the American heart Association). This survey study concerned 49 people (23 men and 26 women), their age ranging between 55 and 80 years, all at high asymptomatic cardiovascular risk. At the beginning and at the end of the three month observation, the authors evaluated the expression of some of the genes involved in determining atherosclerosis, meaning the inflammation and the formation of foam cells and thrombosis. Adding extra virgin olive oil to the Mediterranean Diet resulted into a successful control of the gens, especially in reducing proteins which are responsible of inflammatory and athero-thrombosis processes, the regulation of which plays an essential role in cardiovascular protection.
The above observations take us to the conclusion that the type of diets and very specifically the regular use of extra virgin olive oil can be most effective in preventing and keeping under control the different causes of cardiovascular diseases risks, namely, obesity, oxidation, inflammation, thrombosis. Its efficacy is extendable to the whole population at high cardiovascular disease risks.

* C. Razquin, JA Martinez, MA Martinez – Gonzales, MT Mitjavila, R. Estruch, A. Marti, “A three year follow-up of a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil is associated with high plasma antioxidant capacity and reduced body weught gain”, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2009.
** V. Llorente – Cortes, R. Estruch, MP Mena, E. Ros, MA Gonzales, M. Fitò, RM Lamuela-Raventòs, L. Badimon, “Effect of Mediterranean diet on the expression of pro-atherogenic genes in a population at high cardiovascular risk”, Atherosclerosis, August 2009.

Extra virgin olive oil in the cardiovascular diseases prevention

Extra virgin olive oil is phenol (acid organic compound) rich. This could partially explain why this health food can diminish the risk of cardiovascular diseases
Phenols are antioxidant acids having a protective function for the whole body system, indeed they greatly limit the damage caused by genes implicated in the inflammatory processes.
Making an in depth study on the subject it was a team of researchers from the Cordova University in Spain, lead by Francisco Perez-Jimenez.
Twenty metabolic syndrome patients were involved in this study. This type of syndrome is quite wide spread and normally associated to an increase of cardiovascular risk and diabetes type 2.
Patients were asked to take exclusively controlled meals (enriched with different quantities, accordingly, of extra virgin olive oil) throughout the whole period, and abstain from taking all sorts of medicines as well as integrating vitamins. At the end of the research study, 98 different genes were identifies, acting in a major or minor way, according to the quantity of phenols that was ingested; a considerable number of these genes was already known for being implicated in processes which help pathologies such as obesity and diabetes to develop.


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