This is part 2 of our series on the Mediterranean Diet. The health benefits of olive oil – the Mediterranean way deserve more than a passing glance…
It almost sounds too good to be true, but then again, it’s been working for the Greeks for centuries…and you know they love to eat! But while clinical research is backing up its health benefits, the diet’s gourmet taste and flavor are bonuses we can’t overlook.
Scientists are always looking to plants to find medicinal and therapeutic secrets. Discoveries of natural compounds within the olive tree and their gift of olives, provide promising health and medical benefits.
Of course, that makes it easy to spark your interest in the health benefits of olive oil – the Mediterranean way, of course.
➡ Organic olive oil has significant health-related properties spanning centuries and cultures in the Mediterranean.
The Mediterranean olive tree dates back 6000 years and was native to Iran, Syria, and Palestine (Asia Minor). From there it spread to the Mediterranean basin. It is one of the earliest known cultivated trees.
The olive tree grows very slowly but lives as long as 2,000 years, like the ones found on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In fact, it’s believed that the Bible passage which says “…of the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine,” refers to the olive tree.
Research on the health benefits of olive oil for both the inner and outward body is impressive, as are the long-term effects of the Mediterranean Diet.
The research indicates that extra-virgin olive oil is the most digestible of the edible fats.
➡ Olive oil also helps the intake of vitamins A, D, and K in the human body. Read about those vitamins by clicking the links at the bottom of the page.
Consuming olive oil has been shown to:
- Slow down the aging process
- Help the liver, bile, and intestinal functions.
- Reduce Cholesterol
Compared to American cuisine, especially the snack and fast foods prevalent in the US, the Mediterranean Diet has flat-out intrigued the medical world.
➡ The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition has published findings indicating that incorporating olive oil into our regular diet has demonstrated “a reduction in LDL cholesterol.” (bad cholesterol).
- This is significant because once LDL cholesterol has oxidized it often results in stiffening or hardening of the arteries with the accompanying heart disease.
Read about that here:
- The Top 10 Questions About Cholesterol From My Inbox
- How These 9 Conditions Are Threatening Your Arteries And Veins
- Using Good Nutrition To Beat Atherosclerosis-Common Sense Medicine
A comparison study at the University Hospital in Barcelona, Spain, reports an indication that the health benefits of olive oil may also be useful in the prevention or slowing of **cancer cells.
➡ In the study, lab rats were introduced to a carcinogen that resulted in cancerous tumors.
➡ The study provided evidence that a diet similar to the Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil prevents the growth of cancer cells in the colon which resulted in fewer tumors when compared to a controlled sample of rats eating foods containing other types of cooking oils.
**A cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Bowel and colon cancer is the development of cancer from parts of the large intestines (the colon or rectum).
Signs and symptoms may include:
- Blood in the stool
- A change in bowel movements
- Weight loss
- Feeling tired all the time
Some risk factors include diet, obesity, smoking, and lack of physical activity.
➡ Researchers at Oxford University in England have also seen indications that olive oil may actually be as good for our digestive system as fresh fruit and vegetables in preventing or reducing the risks of colon cancer.
While red meat seems to be linked to the development of colon cancer, fish and olive oil seemed to cut the incidence of colon cancer.
The reasons behind this phenomena are still being considered, but the consensus is that the olive oil may help regulate the bile acid in the stomach while increasing useful enzymes within the stomach that contribute to optimal colon health.
Olive Oil and Heart Health
The American Heart Association has also noted that consumption of olive oil has clear health benefits.
- By substituting extra virgin olive oil for other fats in your diet, the Archives of Internal Medicine indicates:
“A substantial reduction in drug dosage requirements for managing high blood pressure. Initial findings show that dosage reductions could be as high as 50%.”
- By lowering the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) there is an increase in the HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol).
- The antioxidant effects of olive oil have also been widely reported and are effective in reducing “free radicals” (unstable atoms that can damage cells, causing illness and aging) in the body), that may prove to be part of the cause of precancerous and cancerous growth.
While studies are ongoing, it’s encouraging to see that something that’s long been noted for good taste may also be a link to positive health benefits and longevity.
An adaptation of the Mediterranean diet that works with your lifestyle, nutritional requirements, and health needs, can be a healthy (and very tasty) change, worth considering.
How To Eat On The Mediterranean Diet
Learn More Here: