Olive Oil nutrition and health effects

Mediterranean diet Health Effects

Olive oil contains a wide variety of valuable antioxidants that are not found in other oils. Hydroxytyrosol is thought to be the main antioxidant compound in olives, and believed to play a significant role in the many health benefits attributed to olive oil. Epidemiological studies suggest that olive oil has a protective effect against certain malignant tumours in the breast, prostate, endometrium and digestive tract. Research has revealed that the type rather than the quantity of fat seems to have more implications for cancer incidence.


Evidence from epidemiological studies also suggests that a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats in the diet is linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.[48] This is significant because olive oil is considerably rich in monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid.

In the United States, producers of olive oil may place the following health claim on product labels:

Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tbsp. (23 g) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.

This decision was announced November 1, 2004, by the Food and Drug Administration after application was made to the FDA by producers. Similar labels are permitted for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as Almonds and hemp seed.

There is a large body of clinical data to show that consumption of olive oil can provide heart health benefits such as favourable effects on cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol oxidation, and that it exerts antiinflamatory, antithrombotic, antihypertensive as well as vasodilatory effects both in animals and in humans. Additionally, Olive oil protects against heart disease as it controls the "bad" levels of LDL cholesterol and raises levels of the "good" cholesterol, HDL.

As they are the least processed forms of olive oil, extra virgin or virgin olive oil have more monounsaturated fatty acids than other olive oil. These types also contain more polyphenols, which may have benefits for the heart.

Phenolic Content

Some clinical evidence suggests that it is olive oil's phenolic content, rather than its fatty acid profile, that is responsible for at least some of its cardioprotective benefits. For example, a clinical trial published in 2005 compared the effects of different types of olive oil on arterial elasticity. Test subjects were given a serving of 60 g of white bread and 40 ml of olive oil each morning for two consecutive days. The study was conducted in two stages. During the first stage, the subjects received polyphenol-rich oil (extra virgin oil contains the highest amount of polyphenol antioxidants like oleuropein or tyrosol). During the second phase, they received oil with only one fifth the phenolic content. The elasticity of the arterial walls of each subject was measured using a pressure sleeve and a Doppler laser. It was discovered that after the subjects had consumed olive oil high in polyphenol antioxidants, they exhibited increased arterial elasticity, while after the consumption of olive oil containing fewer polyphenols, they displayed no significant change in arterial elasticity. It is theorized that, in the long term, increased elasticity of arterial walls reduces vascular stress and consequentially the risk of two common causes of death—heart attacks and stroke. This could, at least in part, explain the lower incidence of both diseases in regions where olive oil and olives are consumed on a daily basis.

 

 
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