NUTRITIONAL VALUES OF OLIVE OIL
Nutritional value per 100;g (3.5;oz)
– omega‑3 fat
– omega‑6 fat
ΑLL OLIVE OILS ARE NOT THE SAME
Like all other Agricultural products, olives are different from Country to Country, from area to area and inside the same district (Mountain vs Plain).
In Greece there is the ideal combination of sun and wind and the olives are naturally protected from diseases.
Further, it seems that the soil and water are in perfect harmony with Olive tree’s requirements.
That’s why everybody agrees that the Greek olives and Olive Oil, are top in taste, aroma and nutritional value.
And that’s the truth.
Most of the people have no idea and some people have the wrong idea about the “Virginity” of the Olive Oil. They believe that “Extra Virgin” is the Olive Oil with acidity bellow 0.8 and “Virgin”, bellow 2 degrees. This is a wrong impression, probably derived by the fact that the law is just differentiating the two Virgin oils. In fact the term “virgin”, is what the word means. “Untouched”. There is no chemical or other intervention. All the other Olive oils are the result of refining and mixing.
Scientific Research has proven over the years, that Olives and Virgin Olive Oil, have some extraordinary properties that result to prevention and sometime therapy of a number of diseases and malfunctions of the human body.
The list is rather long, but it’s worth to go through the most common of them.
It has been demonstrated that olive oil has an effect in preventing the formation of blood clots and platelet aggregation. It has been observed that by avoiding excessive blood coagulation, olive-oil-rich diets can attenuate the effect of fatty foods in encouraging blood clot formation, thus contributing to the low incidence of heart failure in countries where olive oil is the principal fat consumed.
OLIVE OIL AND CHOLESTEROL
Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time it does not alter the levels of HDL-cholesterol (and may even raise them), which plays a protective role and prevents the formation of fatty patches, thus stimulating the elimination of the low-density lipoproteins. The beneficial effect of olive oil consumption with regard to cardiovascular disease has been demonstrated in primary prevention, where it reduces the risk of developing the disease, and in secondary prevention, where it prevents recurrence after a first coronary event.
ANTIOXIDANTS IN OLIVE OIL
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), carotenoids and phenolic compounds (simple phenols such as hydroxytyrosol and complex phenols such as oleuropein) are all antioxidants whose activity has been demonstrated in vitro and recently in vivo, revealing further advantages in the prevention of certain diseases and also of ageing. Oxidised LDLs are known to be atherogenic, which is where olive oil steps in because it has a beneficial, protective effect against LDL oxidation. Moreover, it also strengthens other cells in the body against the toxic effects of oxidants. Virgin olive oil, i.e. olive oil that has not been refined or industrially treated, is particularly rich in these substances and it has a strong antioxidant effect, protecting against damage from free radicals (scavenger activity) and against the formation of cancer.
Epidemiological studies suggest that olive oil exerts a protective effect against certain malignant tumours (breast, prostate, endometrium, digestive tract, …).It has also been reported that an olive-oil-rich diet is associated with reduced risk of bowel cancer. The protective effect of olive oil is irrespective of the amount of fruit and vegetables eaten in the diet.
Recent studies have demonstrated that olive oil provides protection against cancer of the colon. Lately, research has been looking into the metabolic implications of fats, more specifically the protective role of olive oil in chronic liver disease and in the disorder of the intestines known as Crohn’s disease. Results point to beneficial effects of olive oil on pre-cancerous lesions. After analysing three types of diet, research scientists arrived at various conclusions. The olive oil diet reduced the number of cancerous lesions; the number of tumours that developed was clearly and significantly low; and the tumours were less aggressive and had a better prognosis.
There is recent evidence that when olive oil is consumed the daily dose of drugs needed to control blood pressure in hypertensive patients can be decreased, possibly because of a reduction in nitric acid caused by polyphenols.
An olive-oil-rich diet is not only a good alternative in the treatment of diabetes; it may also help to prevent or delay the onset of the diseaseThese benefits have been documented in child and adult diabetes.
Olive oil is a nutrient of great biological value. Like all other fats and oils it is high in calories (9 Kcal per gram), which could make one think that it would contribute to obesity. However, experience shows that there is less obesity amongst the Mediterranean peoples, who consume the most olive oil.
OLIVE OIL AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
It has been documented that olive oil intake bolsters the immune system against external attacks from microorganisms, bacteria or viruses.
Recent research has concluded that the fatty acids in the make-up of olive oil are good allies in lowering important immunological parameters such as the proliferation of lymphocytes induced by specific mitogens of both B- and T-cells.
These fatty acids have been reported to play an important part in various immune functions. They are involved in regulating inflammatory processes and they may be effective in the treatment of some autoimmune diseases and in the regulation of the immune system in general.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory immune disease of unknown causes that affects the joints. Genes, infective factors, hormones and diet have been suggested as possible associates in its onset. Although some studies had suggested that olive oil could help to alleviate its symptoms they did not provide confirmation of such a protective effect.
Now, the results of a recently published study suggest that regular consumption of olive oil may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
OLIVE OIL AND THE STOMACH
When olive oil reaches the stomach, it reduces the risk of the flow or reflux of food and gastric juice up from the stomach to the oesophagus, like other fats do.
Olive oil also partially inhibits gastric motility. As a result, the gastric content of the stomach is released more slowly and gradually into the duodenum, giving a greater sensation of “fullness”, and favouring the digestion and absorption of nutrients in the intestine.
OLIVE OIL AND THE PANCREAS
When consumed, olive oil produces a small amount of secretion by the pancreas, making this organ “work” little, but efficiently and enough to carry out all its digestive functions. Olive oil is recommended in diseases where pancreatic function has to be maintained, such as pancreas failure, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, malabsorption syndromes, etc.
OLIVE OIL DURING PREGNANCY AND CHILDHOOD
Olive oil plays a key role in foetal development during pregnancy and a shortage may have pernicious effects on the baby’s subsequent development.
It has been demonstrated that the post-natal development of babies of mothers who consumed olive oil when pregnant is better in terms of height, weight, behaviour and psychomotor reflexes.
The foetus needs vitamin E to grow. The newborn baby also needs a store of vitamin E to fight against the oxidative stress caused on entering an oxygen atmosphere. Although not very abundant in olive oil, it is present in sufficient quantity thanks to the resistance of olive oil to oxidation. So, both the amount and the type of food consumed in the diet during pregnancy play a key part in the metabolic adaptations that occur in the mother and in her functional relationship with the foetus.
OLIVE OIL AND BREAST FEEDING
During labour, the vitamin E in the mother’s blood is concentrated in the breast glands and so, during breast feeding, the mother continues to supply vitamin E. It is essential to maintain the levels of this vitamin during breast feeding.
But olive oil not only provides enough essential fatty acids for the development of the new-born child; its ratio of linoleic acid to linolenic acid (essential fatty acids) is similar to that of breast milk.
The beneficial effect of oleic acid lasts beyond pregnancy. Besides its documented effectiveness in preventing hypercholesterolaemia and atherosclerosis, which is a process that can begin in childhood, oleic acid also appears to exert a positive influence on growth and bone mineralisation and development during infancy.
OLIVE OIL AND AGEING
Olive oil is rich in various antioxidants (vitamin E, polyphenols, …) which play a positive, biological role in eliminating free radicals, the molecules involved in some chronic diseases and ageing, and in extending life expectancy, which has been demonstrated in several epidemiological studies.
Olive oil appears to have a favourable effect on bone calcification, and bone mineralisation is better the more olive oil is consumed. It helps calcium absorption, thereby playing an important part during the period of growth and in the prevention of osteoporosis.
OLIVE OIL AND SKIN
External factors, such as the sun’s rays, speed up ageing by generating free radicals. Though cells are equipped with mechanisms that neutralise their action, it is possible to reduce cell damage by using inhibitors that lower the risk. One such natural inhibitor is olive oil, whose lipid profile is very similar to that of human skin. On top of polyphenols, olive oil has a large proportion of vitamins A, D and K, as well as vitamin E, the main source of protection against the free radicals that produce cell oxidation. This makes it a good aid in specific therapies to treat skin disorders such as acne, psoriasis and seborrheic eczemas.