Olive oil: A major player in the prevention of heart disease
Although the health and longevity of the Mediterranean folks are associated with a geniune Mediterranean diet high in plant foods and low in animal products, what has really defined this traditional diet may be the abundant usage of olives and olive oil, the principal fat source and the culinary foundation of the Mediterranean cuisine.

For centuries, olive oil is a major player in the low incidence of heart disease among Mediterranean populations. Extensive research has shown that olive oil not merely can prevent harm to the arteries but may also reverse high levels of cholesterol in the blood and lower high blood pressure, a major risk for strokes.

In a study conducted by Montoya and associates, the participants followed four types of diets for a five-week period: One diet was rich in saturated fats; one in polyunsaturated fat (sunflower oil); one in monounsaturated fat (extra virgin essential olive oil); and the last one in omega-3 fatty acids from fish. The study showed that whenever people followed the diet rich in extra virgin olive oil, their degrees of bad cholesterol went down and their blood pressure decreased 5 to 6 percent.1

We know that extra virgin olive oil is an irreplaceable way to obtain fat with regards to the heart because the main fat in olive oil is monounsaturated, the fat that will not get stuck in the arteries. We also understand that all olive oils have about the same proportion of monounsaturated fat. Then, why buying extra virgin olive oil when it is more costly than refined essential olive oil? Two major reasons:

1. Refined olive oils contain chemicals
Thousands of years back, the olives were crushed by hand in spherical stone basins; today, in a similar method, olives (with pits) are pounded and crushed using mechanical techniques. The oil stated in such a way (cold) is the extra virgin olive oil, the natural juice from the olives. It preserves the unique flavor, smell, and healthy properties of the fruit.

The solid residue that remains after the first extraction is repaid to the press to be beaten again and become exposed to different heat levels and chemical procedures. It really is neutralized with sodium hydroxide, passed through charcoal filters, and extracted with hexane at low temperatures. EB1 The resulting oil lacks color and aroma, and contains lost the majority of its antioxidant properties. That’s why these second extractions are not recommended for consumption. As time passes, the use of oils which have been subjected to chemical agents may have a toxic effect on our anatomies.

2. Extra virgin essential olive oil contains more antioxidants than their refined versions

Countless studies conducted to examine the actions of some minor compounds in olive oil have indicated they are strong antioxidants and potent free radical scavengers. Free radicals are highly unstable and destructive molecules that subject our cells to oxidative stress, continuous damage that eventually kills the cells. When radicals kill or damage enough cells within an organism, the organism ages and finally dies. The antioxidants in essential olive oil are found in larger amounts in extra virgin essential olive oil than in refined olive oils. Let’s check out some of them.

o Vitamin E (�-tocopherol). Essential olive oil contains alpha-tocopherol or vitamin e antioxidant, the tocopherol with the highest natural antioxidant activity and one of the very most effective defenders against oxidation in our cell membranes. Consistent evidence implies that people with low degrees of vitamin e antioxidant in the blood have significantly more damage in the arteries than people with an adequate amount.1 On average, the amount of vitamin e antioxidant in the oil is about 24 to 43 milligrams for each 100 grams of oil.2 A tablespoon of extra virgin essential olive oil contains 1.6 milligrams (2.3 IU [International Units]) of vitamin E, providing 8 to 15 percent of the recommended daily intake.

o Polyphenols: tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol. Extensive research shows that polyphenols are potent antioxidants and inhibitors of free radical “attacks.” Tyrosol is quite stable and is able to undo oxidation of LDL cholesterol.3 Hydroxytyrosol is an effective trash picker of free radicals and it contributes to the shelf life of the oil, delaying its auto-oxidation.4 Based on some studies,5 typically, these compounds in essential olive oil account for the next approximate levels:

1. Extra virgin olive oil: 4.2 milligrams for every 100 grams

2. Refined olive oil: 0.47 milligrams for each 100 grams

As we can appreciate, there is a big difference between your amounts found in extra

virgin essential olive oil and refined oils.

o Hydrocarbons: squalene. The major hydrocarbon in olive oil is squalene, another powerful antioxidant. One study6 implies that the common intake of squalene is 30 milligrams each day in america. The intake in the Mediterranean countries can reach 200-400 milligrams each day. The dose of squalene within olive oil is approximately the following:

1. Extra virgin essential olive oil: 400-450 milligrams per 100 grams

2. Refined olive oil: 25 % less than extra virgin olive oil6

Buying extra virgin olive oil may be a little more expensive, but in the long term you may save lots of money and lots of grief. Let’s follow an authentic Mediterranean Diet with essential olive oil, in particular extra virgin essential olive oil being part of it.