Olive oil is considered to be one of the most healthy dietary fats. However, several types of olive oils are present in the market. A key question is,
“What of the olive oils is the best when concerning nutritional purposes?”
With the data available at present, the answer is: the Virgin Olive Oil (VOO), rich in phenolic compounds. The major components of olive oil are fatty acids, of which the MUFA oleic acid represents from 55 to 83 % of the total fatty acids, PUFA from 4 to 20 % and SFA from 8 to 14 %. The minor components of olive oil constitute from 1 to 2 % of the total content of an olive oil. They are classified into two types:
(1) the unsaponifiable fraction that could be extracted with solvents after the saponification of the oil and contains squalene and other triterpenes, sterols, tocopherols and pigments;
(2) the soluble fraction that includes the phenolic compounds, which are the most studied and best-known components in terms of their benefits for health.
My guide focused on data from randomised, controlled human studies, which are capable of providing the evidence of Level I that is required for performing nutritional recommendations at population level.
Cardioprotective effects of Olive Oils
The PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) published in BMC medical journal (2014) showed that Olive oil consumption in Mediterranean populations, specifically the extra-virgin variety, is associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and mortality in individuals at high cardiovascular risk. The study found that olive oil consumption was associated with 48% reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality. For each 10 g/d increase in extra-virgin olive oil consumption, cardiovascular disease and mortality risk decreased by 10% and 7%, respectively.
Large body of evidence demonstrated the benefits of Olive oil consumption published in The British Journal of Nutrition (2014);
- Improve lipid profile – Olive oils are healthier choice of fats because it contains high level of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and shown to increase HDL level.
- Improve insulin sensitivity (ability of the cells to transport glucose from the bloodstream into the cells) – reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Rich in antioxidants – Olive oil is full of antioxidants including vitamin E, carotenoids and oleuropein.
- Reduce inflammation – reduce the risk of developing autoimmune disease
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (ie stroke and heart attacks) by maintaining normal endothelial (blood vessel lining) function, thrombotic factors (prevent blood clots) and reduction of blood pressure.
Because of high quality of evidence, Federal Drug Administration of the USA permitted a claim on olive oil labels concerning: ‘the benefits on the risk of CHD of eating about two tablespoons (23 g) of olive oil daily, due to the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) in olive oil’.
Olive Oils are Natural Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory
Virgin Olive Oils (VOO) with high phenolic content has been shown to be effective in reducing the eicosanoid inflammatory mediators derived from arachidonic acid (pro-inflammatory precursor). A research published in Nature (2004), found that newly pressed extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal (oleo for olive, canth for sting, and al for aldehyde) – a compound whose pungency induces a strong stinging sensation in the throat, not unlike that caused by solutions of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen.
A point of interest is that the spatial irritation produced by oleocanthal is specific to the throat region. Generally irritant or pungent foods are perceived in all regions in mouth, rather than isolated to a spatially distinct area. This implies that a sensory receptor specific to oleocanthal exists exclusively in the oropharyngeal region but not in the mouth.
Oleocanthal acting as a natural anti-inflammatory compound that has a potency and profile strikingly similar to that of ibuprofen. Although, they have different chemical structure, they both inhibit the same cyclooxygenase enzymes in the prostaglandin-biosynthesis pathway. Subsequent to its discovery and identification, oleocanthal has been reported to exhibit various modes of action in reducing inflammatory related disease, including joint-degenerative disease, neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer’s) and cancers. No wander the prevalence of chronic inflammatory disease in Mediterranean populations are the lowest in the world, and life expectancy amongst the highest!
Olive oils for healthy skin
Linoleic acids in the oils prevent water from evaporating, so if you put olive oil on your skin, it keeps in moisture and all of the other vitamins and minerals olive oil contains. Antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of extra-virgin olive oil can help with this common skin problem such acne and dermatitis. Application of Olive oils on the skin with dermatitis help to prevent colonisation and infection caused by Staph aureus (Dermatitis, 2008), . Olive oil is a natural sunscreen that can be used to treat sun burns.
Olive oils for healthy hairs
Antifungal properties in extra-virgin olive oil can help dandruff problem. Apply oil to the scalp and cover with a shower cap or plastic carrier bag. Relax for an hour then shampoo hair. Repeat twice a week.
Olive oils for healthier Gut
Olive oil stimulates the production of bile in the liver and its expulsion from the gallbladder into the intestine. Consume one to two tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil with each fatty meal. Extra virgin olive oil to be effective against H. pylori which is the bacteria that can cause gastritis, peptic ulcer disease and some case, stomach cancer. In the study published in Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (2007), olive oils exhibit a strong bactericidal activity against eight strains of H. pylori, three of them resistant to some antibiotics! Among the phenolic compounds, the dialdehydic form of decarboxymethyl ligstroside aglycon showed the strongest bactericidal effect at a concentration as low as 1.3 microg/mL. A Spanish study by Castro et. al (2012) showed that 30 grams of extra virgin olive oil can eliminate Helicobacter pylori infection in 10-40% of people in as little as 4 weeks.
In conclusion, they are plenty of benefits of olive oils and the latest research and clinical trials support the use of olive oils for medicinal and cardioprotection. I personally take 1 spoon of olive oils in the morning. If i forget to take it in the morning, i usually use the oils on my salads or take 1 spoon with my dinners. 1 tablespoon of Olive oils a day keep the disease away!