The Beneficial Properties of Olive Oil Consumption
The Mediterranean diet has been proven by scientific research to be one of the best for maintaining good health and longevity.
Olive oil is at the center of the Mediterranean diet being the main source of fat as opposed to other diets where the main source of fat is of animal origin.
There is extensive discussion amongst food scientists as to what really makes olive oil so beneficial for humans compared to other oils, such as seed oil, sesame oil or palm oil. Many scientists believe that the exceptional properties of olive oil derive from the fact that it is the only oil produced from a fruit. Because the fruit comes in contact with air, it has developed natural defenses against the threats it faces. One of these is oxidation, which mainly occurs due to the fact that olives are directly exposed to oxygen. Thus, the olive generates large amounts of antioxidants which in turn pass to the oil produced from it.
The antioxidants in which olive oil is rich are Vitamin E and polyphenols. The high content of antioxidants of the Mediterranean diet appears to be the key in increasing life expectancy.
One of the areas in which the consumption of olive oil has a significant effect is the reduction of the factors that lead to cardiovascular disease. This type of problem is the number one cause of death in the developed world, mainly due to the eating habits and a modern lifestyle with little exercise, smoking and a diet rich in saturated animal fats.
One additional benefit that olive oil offers is protection from increased levels of cholesterol, which is the main factor leading to cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol exists mainly in foods of animal origin that dominate the diets of most developed countries.
Olive oil actually lowers levels of LDL-cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and triglycerides in the blood. At the same time it does not alter the levels of HDL-cholesterol (good cholesterol).
The beneficial effects of olive oil are not limited to the above. According to the International Olive Council there is evidence that olive oil consumption reduces the risk of breast cancer.
So it is quite clear that there is no question about the nutritional value of olive oil. On the contrary, each year new evidence is published recognizing the beneficial effects of the consumption of olive oil.