Olive Oil, The Secret Weapon Behind the Success of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet which include fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish as well as the polyphenols contained in olive oil, is beneficial in the fight against several degenerative diseases.
The Mediterranean Diet which include fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish as well as the polyphenols contained in olive oil, is beneficial in the fight against several degenerative diseases.

Lately there has been a lot of publicity surrounding the time honored Mediterranean Diet. The Mediterranean diet has been credited as being one of the healthiest diet on earth. Those who are from this area have a lower incident of heart disease and obesity, they experience greater overall health, than those of us living in the United States, who have been consuming the Western Diet, with all of its horrible consequences . The Mediterranean Diet has many good components that contribute to its success. This diet includes a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy grains as well as nuts. There is also the use of herbs instead of salt, as well as drinking wine in moderation, a couple of times a week. It is also recommended that you eat with your family and exercise regularly.

All these dietary practices contribute greatly to one’s overall health. However, there is one component to the Mediterranean diet that contributes to its overall success. This special ingredient is extra virgin olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil contains specific compounds known as polyphenols.

Polyphenols are defined as follows: an antioxidant phytochemical (as chlorogenic acid) that tends to prevent or neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals, and any of various alcohols containing two or more benzene rings that each have at least one hydroxyl group (OH) attached. Many polyphenols occur naturally in plants and some kinds, such as the flavonoids and tannins, are believed to be beneficial to health. This is the definition of polyphenols in both the medical and scientific dictionaries. The definition of polyphenols in a nutshell is as follow: they are a substance that occurs naturally in plants, that tend to neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals.

The benefits derived from the polyphenols contained in extra virgin olive oil are nothing short of amazing.
The benefits derived from the polyphenols contained in extra virgin olive oil are nothing short of amazing.

You may then wonder, why are polyphenols so important and how are they associated with the consumption of olive oil? Recent research has been made and the discoveries are astounding. Polyphenols are now discovered to dramatically reduce the risk of heart disease and even help those who already have heart disease. Researchers have discovered that olive oil increased beneficial high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels, and they decrease plasma triglycerides, which is the main contributor to high cholesterol levels in the blood.

Even though it is highly recommended by most physicians for patients to take a low dose aspirin, in order to benefit from its anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce the risk of clotting that leads to heart attacks. It has been discovered in a recent study that they polyphenols reduce the stickiness of blood platelets as effectively as aspirin does and without any of the side effects or stomach discomfort that aspirin can produce. Hydroxytyrosol acetate, which is the type of polyphenols contained in olive oil, inhibits the activity of the body’s natural clotting factor. The polyphenols in olive oil have even been proven effective in reducing experimentally induced inflammation, in laboratory rats. Animal with adjuvant arthritis had started to improve when fed a diet rich in polyphenols.

The Mediterranean Diet is not only beneficial to the cardio vascular system, but it also helps prevent cancer. Fatty acid synthase, an enzyme that helps convert carbohydrates into fats is inhibited by the polyphenols in olive oil and this in turn brings about an anti-cancer effect. It has been discovered that extra virgin olive oil polyphenols, lignans, flavonoids, and secoiridoids were found in significantly reduced fatty acid synthase protein in breast cancer cells. This further proves that the polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil have certain properties that are beneficial in the fight against cancer.

Not only do these polyphenols inhibit fatty acid synthase, but they also have been found to also inhibit cancer cell production as well. Data has suggested that olive oil polyphenols may exert a chemopreventive effect in the large intestine. This is accomplished by the polyphenols interacting with the signaling pathways responsible for cancer development. There have been several studies from laboratories in Ireland, Greece and Spain that back up the claims that the polyphenols in olive oil are a great weapon in the fight against cancer.

If it wasn’t enough, that olive oil polyphenols help in the fight against cancer and cardio vascular illness, they are also useful in the fight against type 2 diabetes. Amylin, which is a pancreatic hormone responsible for regulating blood levels by working in conjunction with insulin, does its job when kept in tact. The problem is that sometimes an abnormal form called toxic peptide aggregate amylin is produced by the body and this destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin. This in turn causes diabetes. Oleuropein a primary component of olive prevents toxic aggregate amylin from destroying insulin cells.

Here’s the cherry on the cake, along with all the other benefits previously stated, the polyphenols in olive oil is also good for aging bones. In studies done in France it has been discovered that the primary polyphenols Oleuropein is instrumental in preventing inflammation-induced loss of the mineral in bones, and this in turns helps prevent osteoporosis.

Of all of nature’s wonders, the polyphenols found in extra virgin olive oil is one of the most amazing in the fight against various degenerative diseases. Consuming olive oil is one of the best ways; to use the food we eat, to heal the body. Here’s a tip for selecting the best olive oil. When buying olive oil, make sure it is extra virgin and first cold pressed. This makes for a healthy advantage. So instead of reaching for the medicine cabinet, and thus having to endure a myriad of side effects, why not just go into your kitchen a sprinkle the extra virgin olive oil and use it when having to cook your meals.


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Comments 25 comments

Princessa profile image

Princessa 6 years ago from France

It's amazing how Olive oil just comes so natural in everyday diet in Spain. The Spaniards in the south can not think about their brakfast without a baguette sprinkled with olive oil, salt and sometimes fresh crushed tomatoes... Its delicious.

My daughter was born there and one of her first solid meals recommended by her paeditrician was bread (freshly baked baguette of course) dipped in salty olive oil to prevent constipation from starting a solid diet.


sree1987 profile image

sree1987 6 years ago from India

Believe me or not, we don't use it for our daily purposes in South Asian Countries as much as you people. In fact, olive oil is available here at a high price for common men .

The majority of the people who are from lower middle class and even below it constitute more than 50 percent of the population use cooking oils more than once because of cost factor. Due to this, they are prone to be infected by carcinogenic infections and finally endangered because of high probability of Cancer.

Thanks for the hub.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Princessa and Sree1987 for your comments. Through this project, I have learned so many things. I use olive oil all the time for cooking and I never realized, just how many healing properties this amazing oil has. Princessa I'm glad your doctor had the wisdom to give your daughter a good start. My family is from a Spanish background so we have been using olive oil in our own foods for as long as I can remember. Shree1987 I hope that the situation in your country improves and it is easier to obtain olive oil. On the hand the Asian Diet is much healthier than the Western Diet so you might find ways to compensate.


Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

I haven't tried this one. It is good to see your view on it.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thanks Sandyspider, all you have to do is buy some first cold pressed extra virgin olive oil. Put some on your salads or cook with it and enjoy better health. I wish everything in life were this simple.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

I never know about this before. But I believe the benefit using olive oil and it good for our health. Nice hub. I rate this up!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you prasetio30, I can see that you are truly health oriented and that is very good. I'm glad you found the hub informative.


Mediterranean diet 6 years ago

The more I read about extra virgin olive oil, the more I think it has a more prominant role in the benefits of the Mediterranean diet than most people think. I found some helpful Mediterranean diet stuff here at http://safe-and-easy-weightloss.com too! I now use extra virgin olive oil in almost all my food preparation (including salad dressings) and have done for the last five years. A good one is simply squeezing a lemon over some extra virgin olive oil and adding just a touch of pepper. Everyone loves it! :-)


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you, I'm glad you agree with my article. It's nice to know that experts on the Mediterranean Diet agree with my data on the benefits of using olive oil, thanks for the link.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

IW62, I use a LOT of olive oil here at the house, I use it for most everything. However, I found that I really love to make italian dressing with flax oil. You should try it, its a bit different at first because its a light clean tasting oil, but its really good. These types of oils have a lot of health benefits. I love garlic in my olive oil too.

Great hub!

- Harlan


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thanks Harlan, I'll try that sometime. Another oil I recommend is coconut oil, it's got a nice smell and taste and is very good for your health.


Harlan Colt profile image

Harlan Colt 6 years ago from the Rocky Mountains

ooooooo.... coconut is my weakness too!

will do!

- Harlan


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Try some, you will love the nice smell of coconut oil and the very nice taste it gives to both poultry and fish.


healthy living naturally 6 years ago

Hey Internetwriter62, interesting stuff!

I live in northern Spain and here you hardly see butter being used, it's all olive oil. I used to live in the UK and there, it's the opposite.

There's like this invisible line that crosses Europe and all those above (i.e. further North) use butter and those below it use olive oil.

I'm glad I made the switch to olive oil, my cooking and my body are both lighter!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

I'm glad you liked the article, I agree it is much healthier to use olive oil than butter. I hope you enjoy living in Spain, it is a beautiful country.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

Polyphenols are amazing little molecules. The best part, of course, is that they're provided by nature, producing none of the awful side-effects that man-made medicine can.

I've got to remember now to use more olive oil. Thanks for doing your part to make the world a healthier place :)


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Benny, I use olive oil all the time as well other wonderful herbs. I try my best to avoid substances with side effects. I appreciate your support and for doing your part in making the world a healthier place.


epigramman profile image

epigramman 6 years ago

well I use olive oil in/on everything - it's a miracle ingredient - and your hubs remind me of olive oil - rich, smooth and pure!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 6 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you epigramman, I am also an avid user of olive oil, it has a nice flavor and so many health benefits.


Kamran100 profile image

Kamran100 5 years ago

yeah..this is very informative hub..vote up up up!


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 5 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Kamran100, I'm glad you fond this hub informative and I hope it helped make better choices.


Teenage Diet 5 years ago

This hub provides some of the healthiest tips for eating natural healthy foods.

Joseph


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 5 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Thank you Joseph, I'm glad you liked the tips given in this article and that you found them helpful, I do owe great magazines like Delicious Living a debt of gratitude, otherwise the hub wouldn't have been possible.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

Internetwriter, this an excellent hub on olive oil. Voted up and awesome.

I am sharing a link to this hub in my hub on benefits of olives and olive oil.


Internetwriter62 profile image

Internetwriter62 4 years ago from Marco Island, Florida Author

Hello Rajan Jolly,

Thank you very much for your kind words and support. I am so glad that you liked this article and that you found it helpful, I appreciate that you will share it with others, I hope the information is helpful to them as well. Thanks for the vote up.

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