The health benefits
EVOO helps our hearts!
In one study, conducted by researchers from the University of Rochester and Penn State University, it was found that a diet rich in olive oil lowered LDL by 14% in four weeks, and, at the same time, there was no change in the heart-protective HDL cholesterol levels. The results show that using more EVOO (monounsaturated fat) can reduce your heart-disease risk by 25%, per Penny Kris-Etherton, the study author and a professor at Penn State.
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, for example, shows that olive oil can lower blood pressure and make blood pressure-lowering medications less necessary.
- Studies show that swapping olive oil for butter helps cut LDL (bad cholesterol) by 6 to 10%). Note: Using a great EVOO cuts the LDL by a larger percentage. About 85% of the fats in olive oil are heart friendly and cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fats.
- EVOO is a potent antioxidant, rich in vitamin E. EVOO is packed with polyphenols, many of which act as antioxidants and anti- inflammatories. This powerful combination – the antioxidants mop up cell-damaging free radicals, while anti-inflammatories combat unwanted inflammation in the body.
A little can go a long way! Eat a spoonful or replace your butter with EVOO to get the benefits
Let’s break down the science.
Real Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a delicate cocktail of over 100 polyphenols, hydrocarbons, vitamins, and other perishable - and often volatile – compounds, which vanish when the oil is treated with chemicals or heat. Ever since oleocanthal was discovered, scientists and medical professionals have been studying these compounds, and many of their studies – or excerpts - are included on our website.
Later research has found that some of the substances in EVOO shield us from the damage done by an essential part of our body chemistry – oxygen. Oxygen is vital to life; however, it also accelerates aging and death. Oxygen is required for cell metabolism but produces certain highly reactive byproducts called free radicals, which damage cells, combined with LDL (bad cholesterol) to narrow artery walls.
By the age of 80, the proteins in an average person’s body are 80% oxidized; oxygen, in other words, is making us go bad. Polyphenols in EVOO such as hydroxytyrosol and secoiridoid aglycones, as well as hydrocarbons like squalene, are potent antioxidants. These are natural preservatives that protect olive oil from spoilage caused by oxidation, and also help shield tissues in various parts of the human body from the assault of free radicals. Clinical tests suggest that, thanks either to these antioxidant properties or their ability to inhibit cancer cell proliferation, polyphenols in EVOO also help prevent cancers of the colon, breast, ovary and prostate glands.
Polyphenols and other substances in EVOO also appear to have cardiovascular benefits, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties and because they reduce the clotting action of red blood cells, diminishing the risk of thrombosis, stroke, and heart attack. Other compounds act as antibacterial agents, amplifying the immune system’s response to infection. Still others block the sun’s ultraviolet rays and protect against skin cancer, when EVOO is spread on the skin. And others, like oleocanthal, appear to guard against neurological damage in degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s. “ A low incidence of cardiovascular disease, dementia, and certain kinds of cancer – these are among the central benefits attributed to the Mediterranean diet,” says Gary Beauchamp. “Since the 1950s, people have accepted that EVOO, the main source of fat in this diet, is the keystone of this dietary regime”.
Some of EVOO’s positive effects stem from its monounsaturated fat profile; however, more and more medical research suggests that the polyphenols and other minor components of EVOO, which constitute only 2% of its volume, are the main source of EVOO’s health benefits. These same substances give high-quality EVOO its pepperiness, bitterness and other prized sensory properties. In fact, the EVOO’s healthful properties are directly proportional to the strength of its flavors, aromas, and other sensory characteristics. If an olive oil doesn’t sting on the back of the throat, it contains little or no oleocanthal. If it isn’t bitter, it’s low in tocopherol and squalene. If it isn’t velvety in texture, then it is missing hydroxytyrosol.
The amount of these beneficial substances vary widely among oils, from 50 to 800 milligrams per kilo of oil, depending on factors such as the olive cultivar, where it’s grown, how much water the trees receive, the ripeness of the fruit at harvest, and the milling and extraction methods used. Once again, to quote Gary Beauchamp, “Before researching olive oil, I used to buy any old oil in the supermarket. It was just something to dump over salad. Today, knowing what I know, I’m willing to spend $25 or more for a bottle of high-quality oil”. In fact, it’s the consumption of polyphenol-rich EVOO and the other elements of the Mediterranean diet over the long term that produce most of the diet’s health benefits.
Tom Mueller also interviewed Lanfranco Conte, perhaps the world’s leading authority on olive oil chemistry, who holds the chair of food chemistry at the University of Udine, Italy. He also is an advisor to the International Olive Council in Madrid, the Agriculture department of the European Union in Brussels, and the Italian government’s Technical Commission on Oils and Fats in Rome. Today he uses his dual experience as a chemist and in food law enforcement to devise chemical tests for the different grades of olive oil. These, in turn, enter Italian and EU laws on olive oil. This is helping to make EVOO the most tightly controlled food in the world – at least on paper.
Since the USA is not a member of the IOC, today we still have a very large percentage of the olive oil labeled Extra Virgin and sold as such in our grocery stores that doesn’t meet IOC standards. Therefore, a lot of what is sold has very little, if any, health benefits. And that is the main reason I am an importer: so that people in the USA – and elsewhere - can purchase and consume REAL EVOO.
Our Recommendations for Your Health
All of our EVOOs are rich in polyphenols and other health benefits.