Olive Oil & Health

The therapeutic properties of the oil favoured by Hippocrates thousands of years ago, are confirmed by countless contemporary medical and nutritional studies. In contemporary food science, the high biological and therapeutic value of olive oil exculpates its high calorific content.

One of its two main beneficial characteristics is its high content in monounsaturated acid triglycerides (between 53 and 87%), in contrast to the saturated acid triglycerides contained in animal fats and the polyunsaturated acid triglycerides contained in other vegetable oils. At the same time, the polyunsaturated acids contained in olive oil are necessary for the human body, since it cannot compose them by itself.

The second major advantage of olive oil is the tocopherols it contains, which are antioxidant substances that act against free radicals, prevent ageing and protect us against cancer. It is worth noting that tocopherols can be found only in virgin and extra virgin olive oil, because they are removed during the refining process that regular olive oil undergoes.

The multiple benefits of olive oil

For the heart
Monounsaturated acid triglycerides are capable of controlling LDL (bad cholesterol) levels and raising HDL (good cholesterol) levels. As early as the 1950s-1960s, major nutritional studies (e.g. the “Seven Countries Study”) indicated that the Mediterranean diet is ideal, after observing that the risk of death by coronary disease is much lower in Mediterranean populations, whose daily diet includes olive oil to a large extent.

For the digestive system
Olive oil is the most easily digestible fatty substance. It enhances the absorption of nutritional substances, especially vitamins and minerals, and protects from gastritis and ulcers. It is also a cholagogue substance, which activates the secretion of pancreatic and gallbladder hormones (much more naturally than the drugs designed for this purpose) and therefore decreases the chances of cholelithiasis (gallstones). At the same time, it has a mild laxative action.

For diabetics
A diet that is rich in olive oil will prevent or decelerate the onset of diabetes. Olive oil prevents insulin resistance and the potential dangerous consequences thereof, increases good cholesterol, reduces blood glycerides and controls blood sugar levels.

For cancer prevention
Cancer can develop more easily when there is a reduced intake of vitamins and antioxidants; olive oil provides these in generous amounts. Also, epidemiology studies have demonstrated that olive oil has a protective action against certain types of malignant tumours, such as breast cancer, prostate cancer, tumours of the endometrium, the digestive system, etc.

Moreover, olive oil…

  • as the main fatty component of a high-fat diet, leads to more sustained weight loss than a low-fat diet;
  • prevents the risk of occurrence of rheumatoid arthritis;
  • during pregnancy, plays a decisive role in the development of the foetus, and sustains vitamin E in breast milk at high levels during lactation;
  • protects the skin and contributes to the prevention of diseases such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.