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Olive Oil

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Olive Oil

Multiple Benefits including burning calories

  • Olive oil is extracted by crushing and pressing the olives. The oil from the first press is called ‘extra virgin’. In parts of the world where monounsaturated fats such as olive oil are consumed in larger quantities, diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, colon cancer, and arthritis, are found at a much lower incidence that in western societies consuming saturated and trans fat rich foods
  • Just consider the Cretans [Mediterranean diet, Lyon Diet Heart Study] had a ‘swig’ of olive oil daily. The cardiovascular protective effect of doing this on a daily basis is staggering (Bond 2007). As Dr Joanna McMillan Price a research dietitian at Sydney University in her book 'Star Foods' points out that "Glucose 'spikes' after eating high-GI meals have been shown to damage blood vessels and cause a low level of inflammation around the body. High levels of insulin are also damaging and hyperinsulinaemia (high insulin in the blood) is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease."

What you should do?

  • Aim to have at least 1 tablespoon of olive oil a day.
  • Add this to your muesli or use this as a dressing for your salads or use the oil to cook in.
  • Many studies have shown significant increases in inflammatory markers such as C-Reactive Protein [CRP] after eating high glycemic index foods. The advantage of olive oil at breakfast is that it will slow down gastric emptying and thus lower the glycemic index of the meal, increase the absorption of fat soluble vitamins from the muesli, provide you with powerful antioxidants such as squalene and hydroxytyrosol and is an important source of healthy monounsaturated oil. So a small amount of olive oil is beneficial indeed.
  • Having olive oil at breakfast helped to decrease the glycemic index [GI] of that breakfast and to help provide an antioxidant boost to the choice.
  • A study was highlighted that showed the protective effect of olive oil at breakfast on the endothelium [the lining of blood vessels] explained in greater detail below.
  • If the reasons above are not enough to entice you to have some olive oil at breakfast, then perhaps this important research may.
  • Olive oil is rich in oleic acid a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid. Oleic acid can be produced by the human body but only in marginal amounts and can become deficient in this important fatty acid in times of stress and where dietary measures are in place to restrict fat intake ---so in this regard oleic acid is called a conditional fatty acid.

Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Protection [Protecting the Endothelium, the lining of blood vessels]

  • The use of olive oil at breakfast was indeed studied and the powerful polyphenols in olive oil were shown to be protective of the endothelium post-prandially [after eating].
  • Normally after eating, the endothelium is ‘impaired’ for several hours after eating due to elevated blood sugar levels, insulin and other hormones present in the post-prandial state. According to one study, “Twenty-one hypercholesterolemic volunteers received 2 breakfasts rich in olive oils with different phenolic contents (80 or 400 ppm) according to a randomized, sequential crossover design.”
  • The conclusion was that “A virgin olive oil with a high content of phenolic compounds changes the postprandial hemostatic profile to a less thrombogenic state (Ruano, Lopez-Miranda et al. 2007).” In other words, olive oil with your meals is protective. Olive oil added to any food will also decrease the glycemic index of that food thus altering the insulin response favourably.

Olive oil polyphenols & oxidative stress

  • An important article published online on April 2, 2009 in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, was a pointer to which polyphenolic compound in olive oil was the most important in protecting human cells against oxidative stress.
  • The protective effect of polyphenolic olive compounds: oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and two oleuropein aglycones --- 3,4-DHPEA-EA and 3,4-DHPEA-EDA, were tested to see which of these compounds protected red blood cells [RBCs] that were exposed to oxidative stress.
  • 3,4-DHPEA-EDA is the phenolic compound found in higher concentrations in olive oil.
  • These Portuguese researchers stated:
    "The results represent the first evidence that 3,4-DHPEA-EDA may play a much more
    important protective role against ROS-induced oxidative injury in human cells than hydroxytyrosol or oleuropein, and may be of great importance regarding the protective
    effect of virgin olive oil. The data gathered in this study may help to increase the knowledge of the polyphenols of olive oil performance in human cells."

Oxidized LDL autoantibodies (OLAB)

The EurOlive Study found that a daily dose of olive oil polyphenols increased levels of oxidized LDL autoantibodies (OLAB), which reduced levels of oxidized LDL, an accepted risk factor for artery hardening (atherosclerosis).

The researchers made the following comment:

“A direct protective role of OLAB on atherosclerosis generation has been previously established and our results provide further support to recommend the use of polyphenol-rich olive oil as a source of fat, particularly for individuals presenting a high oxidative status97.”

The thermogenic effect of olive oil: Burn off extra calories just by having olive oil for breakfast!

  • An elegant study was undertaken at McGill University in Canada to show whether fatty acids contributed to fat gain or increased calorie burning [fat loss].
  • Oleic Acid [OA], Linoleic Acid [LA] and Alpha Linolenic Acid [ALA] were compared in a study that gave test subjects these various fatty acids for breakfast95.
  • What was found in the study mentioned above was a significant difference in the rate of total calorie burning after the oleic acid [olive oil] was given. This increased metabolic effect was not due to increased activity as the subjects were at rest and thus was related to the thermic effect [heat producing effect] of this food.
  • This heat producing effect of olive oil has not been studied specifically in humans but rat studies have shown that this thermic effect is due to an increase in uncoupling proteins. Uncoupling proteins cause calorie burning biochemical reactions to move in the direction of energy production rather than producing the storage form of cellular energy called ATP.
  • Oleic acid [OA] is preferentially burned off as energy as opposed to being stored in the body as fat96.
  • By consuming oleic acid, other fats may be burned off more efficiently.
  • Is it any wonder that olive oil has been shown to have such cardiovascular protective effects and oleic acid is considered one of the potent health-promoting factor [along with other components] in the Mediterrranean Diet.
  • Have 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil [the first cold pressing] with your breakfast - you now know the benefits.
  • You can also have a small amount mixed with lemon juice and sprinkle this over your multicoloured salad.
  • Remember both olive oil and lemon juice will lower the glycemic index of any meal.
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