Olive Oil Does It Again

Those Mediterranean people have it all: a perfect climate, gorgeous beaches and terrain, incredible food, and pretty darn good health. Aren’t we getting a little tired of hearing good things about them?

Yes, we know: it’s the olive oil. Countless studies have analyzed the beneficial properties of the much lauded E.V.O.O., and this one is no exception. The cooperative study specifically targeted olive oil’s antioxidant properties and its benefit for those with degenerative diseases.

The study was completed with the collaboration of the Institut of Nutrition and Food Technology of the Universidad de Granada and the Nutrition Team of the Hospital Virgen de las Nieves (Granada). Together with the Research Group, they have determined that consumption of olive oil rich in polyphenols (natural antioxidants) improves the lives of people suffering from oxidative stress, and is also highly beneficial for the prevention of cell aging and osteoporosis…. After analysing samples from 15 olive oil mills, researchers have demonstrated that olive oil is very rich in polyphenols. According to Professors Alberto Fernández and Antonio Segura, ‘as preventive substances, polyphenols help to combat any oxidative disease associated with the degenerative process.

via Science Daily

Though the resulting claim of the study probably comes as no surprise, it’s a confirmation worth reading. We’ve been longtime admirers of the olive elixir.
In addition to its antioxidants, olive oil boasts those groovy anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. In fact, a substance called oleocanthal in olive oil has the same pharmacological effects as ibuprofen and is seen as a key protective factor in lower heart disease rates in much of Southern Europe. Freshly pressed olive oil contains more of the compound, which is all the more reason to scan the travel websites for cheap tickets these days.

A note for choosing olive oil to maximize all the aforementioned goodies:

Go for the polyphenol rich virgin or extra-virgin varieties. Since fresher is clearly better, check the packaging date (usually included with better quality oils). Choose an oil that’s less than a year old, and make sure to use it within a year’s time. But then, why take a whole year to go through a single bottle of something so healthy and delicious?

We’d love to hear your favorite uses for olive oil (culinary, please). Drop the MDA community a line.

hyku Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

Foods That Fight Inflammation

Slashfood: Authenticity for Olive Oil

Almost Vegetarian: 2,400 Year Old Olive Oil

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8 thoughts on “Olive Oil Does It Again”

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  1. Here’s my favorite use of olive oil: minushi. (That’s a phonetic spelling; I don’t know how it’s actually spelled.) It’s a middle eastern dish I learned from a Lebanese friend. Very easy, and very delicious.

    1. Slice bread thinly. (I use Manna from the Julian Bakery. It’s made from all sprouted grains — no flour.)

    2. With a spoon, mix equal parts dried thyme and dried oregano together in a bowl. Add enough olive oil to saturate the herbs (up to the point where, if you added more olive oil, it wouldn’t be absorbed). Add sea salt to taste. Mix all together.

    3. Spoon the mixture from the previous step onto the bread as a topping. Amount is to taste. I personally like quite a bit — a few centimeters high covering the entire surface of the bread.

    4. Optional step: add a slice of cheese on top of the thyme/oregano/olive oil/sea salt mix. (Manchego works well, as does Compte.)

    5. Bake in oven (directly on rack) at 175 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Not enough to toast it, but enough to heat it.

    6. Eat that and make more.

  2. GAH! So the only effective way for adults to lose more than 20 lbs long term is to get WLS? Pardon me for my cynicism, but doesn’t Dr. Fielding have just a wee bit of a financial interest in encouraging us to believe that we must choose a surgical option to deal with weight and diabetes problems?

    I didn’t (and still don’t) have diabetes, but I did have insulin resistance and PCOS. And I decided to do something about those issues last summer. Granted I’m still in the losing stage, but so far I’ve lost 100 lbs WITHOUT surgery in any shape or form, simply by cutting sugars and starches and concentrating on healthy proteins and fats. Oh and I exercise at least a little too. 🙂 And I generally do two days of intermittent fasting per week.

    I know several WLS patients, and frankly, I’m much happier with the choices I’ve made.

  3. Speaking of the mediterranean diet, they eat a lot of pasta especially in Italy don’t they? Or is that just a myth?

    Reason I ask is because I know how many say pasta isn’t healthy for us, yet if they are healthy in the mediterranean region and eating it often why is it bad for us?

  4. 1. Dr. Fielding should have his license revoked.

    2. Pasta outside of Italy is considered a meal. In Italy it is usually a small appetizer, Thus, it seems as if Italians eat a lot of Pasta when it is actually a small part of their meals.

    3. In Italy, Pizza is considered something for lunch FOR SCHOOL CHILDREN. Outside of Italy it is a meal in itself.

    Get it?

    I live in Germany and spend much time in Italy, I am also half Italian.

  5. Cynthia kudos to you! I also lost a truckload of weight through nutrition and fitness(size 22-4/6)! mIt wasn’t easy and took a while too. Yet most people dont have that kind of discipline. My friend still don’t understand why I won’t have just a small piece of cake or something else that doesn’t fit my lifestyle. In all honesty, on most days it doesnt even appeal to me and then it would start a slippery slope or I would feel so crummy after…

    We are a quick fix society. It’s easier to take pills or insulin to control diabetes (type 2) than trying to change your lifestyle!! And for the morbidly obese, surgery is their option to what to ingest.

    Not trying to ridicule or critic anyone but IMHO that’s the sad truth of our society.

  6. One more olive oil tip – all oils are sensitive to light. Buy your oil in dark green bottles, or better yet, in opaque metal containers.

    As for my favorite use – everything. I even keep a bottle on my desk at work.

  7. Migraineur got in before me to underline the importance of not letting light damage olive oil; I’d add that it is, apparently a decent option to rub on your skin in the sun (not that we know what that is right now in the UK) with protective properties. I use it like that and I was surprised at the results – good tan, no burning, skin in good condition, CAn’t point you at the research right now – if it was a researched piece – but will hunt around. This would be for adults, btw, and not for really fair-skinned people.

  8. Be careful cooking with olive oil. Only use at very low temperatures – if it’s ‘sizzling’ it’s probably too hot for olive oil. It will oxidize and most of its healthful properties will be gone. Better to put it on the food that’s already hot (try steam or baking) if you want its flavor and health benefits.

    Also as I touted in another post, if you like the variety of flavors of commercial salad dressing, try mixing them 1/3 to 2/3 EVOO and you’ll get the flavor with the goodness of olive oil to boot.