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The health benefits of olive oil are extensive with new positive attributes discovered all of the time. One prominent cardiologist recommends at least two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil each day to enjoy the many ways olive oil can be beneficial to your health and well being.
In addition to bolstering the immune system and helping to protect against viruses, olive oil has also been found to be effective in fighting against diseases such as:
Cancer: The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in reducing inflammation, which can decrease the risk of breast cancer and its recurrence. Squalene and lignans are among the other olive oil components being studied for their possible effects on cancer.
Heart Disease: Olive oil helps lower levels of blood cholesterol leading to heart disease.
Oxidative Stress: Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, especially vitamin E, long thought to minimize cancer risk. Among plant oils, olive oil is the highest in monounsaturated fat, which does not oxidize in the body. Additionally, it is low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind of fat that does oxidize.
Blood Pressure: Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of olive oil can help decrease both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Diabetes: It has been demonstrated that a diet that is rich in olive oil, low in saturated fats, moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fiber from fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains is the most effective approach for diabetics. It helps lower "bad" low-density lipoproteins while improving blood sugar control and enhances insulin sensitivity.
Obesity: Although high in calories, olive oil has been shown to help reduce levels of obesity.
Rheumatoid Arthritis: Although the reasons are still not fully clear, recent studies have proved that people with diets containing high levels of olive oil are less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoporosis: A high consumption of olive oil appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification. It helps calcium absorption and thus plays an important role in aiding sufferers and in preventing the onset of Osteoporosis.
Here are a few studies of interest.....
Olive Oil Might Help Prevent Strokes
According to a new study from France, older individuals who consume olive oil daily may be able to protect themselves from a stroke. The study which is part of the "Three-City Study", an ongoing multicenter study of vascular risk factors for dementia, was published in the online issue of Neurology. Researchers gathered information from the medical records of 7,625 individuals over the age of 65 from three cities in France: Bordeaux, Dijon and Montpellier. None of the participants had a history of stroke. They then categorized the individuals into three groups based on their olive oil consumption. The researchers noted that the participants used mostly extra virgin olive oil, as that is what is usually available in France.
After 5 years there were 148 strokes. The results showed that the "intensive" users of olive oil, those that used both for cooking and dressings had a 41 percents lower risk of stroke compared to those that did not use olive oil at all. These results were noted even after considering weight, diet, physical activity and other risk factors.
Olive Oil Diet Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Traditionally a low fat diet has been prescribed to prevent various diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. While studies have shown that high fat diets may increase the risk of certain diseases such as cancer and diabetes, it appears that it is the type of fat that counts rather than the amount of fat. We now know that a diet rich in monounsaturated fats such as the ones found in olive oil, nuts and seeds actually protects from many of these chronic diseases.
Olive Oil Keeps the Heart Young
A diet rich in olive oil may be able to slow down the aging of the heart. It is a known fact that as we grow older the heart also goes through a normal aging process. The arteries may not function as well as they did and this can lead to a number of health problems. However, in a recent study, Spanish researchers discovered that a diet rich in olive oil or other monounsaturated fats could improve the arterial function of elderly individuals. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, compared the effect of a Mediterranean style diet rich in olive oil with that of a low fat, high carbohydrate diet and a diet rich in saturated fats and concluded that the diet rich in olive oil resulted in the reduction of endothelial damage and dysfunction.
Olive Oil Fights Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by a decrease in bone mass, which in turn causes the architecture of bone tissue to become fragile. This can then increase the possibility of fractures, making even the slightest of knocks potentially fatal for sufferers. The disease is recognized as being particularly prevalent among postmenopausal women for whom a decrease in the production of estrogen then weakens bone structures and most commonly affects the ribs, wrists and hips. For this study, scientists were particularly interested in how a supplementation of olive oil could be used to help women in the category.
Tests were carried out on rats showing comparable conditions to female human menopause, with one group being treated orally with olive oil. At the end of the experiment, blood samples were collected and tested for levels of calcium, phosphorus, alkaline phosphates (ALP), malondialdehyde (MDA) and nitrates.
The results found that the rats not treated with olive oil showed a significant decrease in calcium levels and a significant increase in plasma ALP, MDA and nitrate levels.
Olive oil supplementatin proved to be beneficial and was found to both attenuate these changes and to positively effect the thickness of bones.