THE PRINCIPLE THINKING REGARDING OLIVE OIL AND HEALTH
In this section we provide information on the principle thinking regarding Olive Oil and health. There’s a great deal written on the subject so we start with an independent expert summary of the latest thinking:
Dr. Parveen Yaqoob has been working in the field of dietary fat and human health for twenty years. She began her scientific career with a BA in Physiology from the University of Oxford, followed by a doctorate in Biochemistry. It was during this time that she became interested in the diverse functions of different fats in the body and how the type of fat that we eat could impact on our health. She is currently a Reader at The University of Reading, where she teaches nutrition at BSc and MSc level and runs a research group (www.food.reading.ac.uk). She is also a Registered Nutritionist with the UK Nutrition Society (www.nutsoc.org.uk). Dr. Yaqoob writes:
I was fascinated by the fact that people living in Mediterranean regions were reported to have the longest life spans in the world. Jeanne Calment, who had the longest confirmed lifespan (122 years) for any human being in history, attributed her longevity to Olive Oil and port wine. Throughout history, the virtues of Olive Oil have been extolled and food writers are well-known for their advocacy of the Mediterranean diet.
It’s true to say, however, that despite a wealth of anecdotal evidence, the scientific evidence for the health benefits associated with consumption of Olive Oil is still developing. Over the years I have been involved in research which examines the impact of different types of dietary fat, including Olive Oil, on blood cholesterol and on risk for heart disease. It’s fairly well known that eating too much saturated fat is not a good thing, but is all fat bad?
The answer is ‘no’ – replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated fat, in the form of Olive Oil, can be beneficial to our health and well being.
Good food and plenty of exercise are essential ingredients for achieving life-long good health and wellbeing. In recent years we have grown ever more conscious of the impact of diet on our health, and fats have tended to figure prominently.
Dietary advice often begins with an emphasis on reducing the amount of fat consumed, but can also include guidelines for replacing saturated fat with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Olive Oil is one of the best sources of monounsaturated fat – but that’s not the only advantage. Olive Oil also contains a high level of antioxidants, polyphenols, tocopherols and Vitamins A, B, E and K.
The health benefits of consuming olive oil include:
- Protection against heart disease. Countries in Southern Europe have lower rates of heart disease than those in Northern Europe – this is thought to be due to a diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, and rich in olive oil.
- Antioxidants in olive oil could help to protect against damage by free radicals in our bodies. These free radicals increase as we get older and are associated with heart disease, eye disease and neurodegeneration.
- Regulating blood cholesterol levels.
- Maintaining a healthy digestive system and helping to ensure efficient absorption of nutrients from the diet.
- Helping with the prevention and management of diabetes and ‘metabolic syndrome’, which are becoming increasingly common.
Olive Oil has been enjoyed for thousands of years. It tastes great, it’s incredibly versatile and health professionals confirm that it’s good for you. It makes perfect sense that Olive Oil is highly recommended as part of a well-balanced, healthy diet.