Extra virgin olive oil is one of the main foods in the Mediterranean diet, valuable in the kitchen as a condiment, but even more valuable for health thanks to its many properties and extraordinary benefits. Numerous scientific studies have been conducted over the past decades, many of them based on epidemiological analyses. They have shown that especially extra virgin olive oil and oils with a high biophenol content have beneficial effects on human health. In particular for:
Extra virgin olive oil reduces the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increases the level of good cholesterol (HDL). As a result, the risk of suffering from these diseases is reduced in proportion to the amount of olive oil consumed.
The combination of monounsaturated fats and biophenols reduces the risk of the most frequent cancers affecting the breast, gastrointestinal tract, upper digestive tract and urinary tract by 1/3.
The preventive effects of extra virgin olive oil with respect to ageing and the resulting diseases – such as senile dementia, cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis – are linked to its antioxidant content.
Regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil helps reduce arterial pressure at the systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) levels. The main remedy is biophenols.
A diet high in extra virgin olive oil, low in saturated fats and moderately rich in carbohydrates and soluble fibres such as fruit, vegetables, legumes and cereals has been shown to be the most effective diet for diabetic patients.
We know that extra virgin olive oil contains 9 calories per gram, but Mediterranean populations used to consuming a high amount of it have a lower percentage of obesity cases than populations using animal fats. Extra virgin olive oil also contributes to a healthy diet of fruit, vegetables and fish.
The fatty acids in olive oil have been shown to strengthen the immune system against bacteria and viruses.
Individuals who consume small amounts of extra virgin olive oil are 2.5 more likely to develop arthritis, the incidence of which is said to be linked to the antioxidant content.
Extra virgin olive oil inhibits gastric motility, aiding both digestion and the absorption of nutrients.
Extra virgin olive oil has a similar function to most antidepressants by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.
In conclusion, extra virgin olive oil is a precious nutraceutical food that is extraordinarily effective in protecting our health, aptly defined by Dante Alighieri in the 21st canto of Paradise as ‘Food of olive liquor’.