Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Health
It has long been known that olive oil has a series of healing and protective properties for health. Doctors in ancient Egypt already used it skilfully for various remedies. Later, in ancient Greece, Hippocrates of Cos, the Father of Medicine, used it to treat stomach ails (ulcers) and above all for cleaning infected wounds and as an ointment to treat skin problems.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the Cardiovascular System
Fats of animal origin are essentially saturated fats that increase cholesterol in the blood, while olive oil contains unsaturated fats that reduce the total level of cholesterol.
Excessive quantities of cholesterol in the blood increase the risk of suffering from atherosclerosis (arteriosclerosis). This disease consists of the formation of atheromatous plaques on artery walls.
In order to be transported in blood, fats associate with proteins to form lipoproteins. Two of these are of interest from the point of view of atherosclerosis:
- Low density lipoproteins (LDL), whose cholesterol content is deposited in arteries thus producing atherosclerosis .
- High density lipoproteins (HDL), which have a protective role, because they remove the cholesterol deposited in arteries thus preventing atherosclerosis .
Virgin olive oil increases the protective cholesterol level, or HDL, and so prevents atherosclerosis.
Thus, with a diet rich in virgin olive oil (after about four weeks), a significant reduction in blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, is achieved in hypertensive patients.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the Nervous System
The oleic acid in virgin olive oil links to the myelin in nerve endings thus facilitating their connexions, and consequently improving cerebral nervous transmissions. This explains why it has been attributed with protective qualities against degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the Digestive System
Virgin olive oil has a protective effect, reduces lesions, and helps ulcers to heal. Also, a compound has been found in virgin olive oil, phenyletanol, that inhibits the intestinal absorption of cholesterol. Lastly, there are indications that it may prevent colon cancer as it reduces the lesions in the mucous lining of the intestine.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Infants
Virgin olive oil provides a lipid composition similar to a mother's breast milk.
Virgen olive oil
61 - 83
2 - 18
65 - 90
9 - 10
2.4 - 4.5
It is for this reason that paediatricians recommend that virgin olive oil be included in the baby's diet, when no longer breast feeding, in order to avoid a deficiency of these fatty acids as they are beneficial to bone development, mineralization and growth, and avoid delayed growth and alterations of the skin, liver and metabolism.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Diabetes
It has recently been demonstrated that a diet rich in virgin olive oil reduces in diabetic patients the increase of LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol, improves glucose control in blood and increases sensitivity to insulin.