Exciting research out of Spain indicates just how olive oil may aid in the prevention of heart disease. While the link between this flavorful and versatile oil and heart disease were established some time ago, now we are learning exactly how it can prevent heart disease.
Olive Oil and the Prevention of Heart Disease
According to their study, olive oil actually works at the genetic level, turning off the genes associated with heart disease.
Scientists at the Institut Municipal d’Investigacio Medica used three groups—one which followed a typical Mediterranean-style diet, rich in whole grains, fresh produce and virgin olive oil. The second group had a similar diet, but used a lower grade of olive oil. The third group followed their regular diet.
The group using the virgin olive oil “showed improvement” in those genes related to heart disease and hardening of the arteries, or atherosclerosis.
The difference between “olive oil” and “virgin olive oil” as used in the study is that the higher grade virgin olive oil has more polyphenols—antioxidants that provide a wealth of health benefits. Even better than virgin olive oil is extra virgin olive oil, containing more phenols, a richer taste, and lower acidity. Extra virgin olive oil for health-related purposes is the ideal choice, even for the prevention of heart disease.
In addition to “turning off” the heart disease genes, these phenols have been shown to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Numerous diseases and ailments can be linked to overall inflammation. In essence, higher consumption of the phenol found in olive oil in a variety of foods can sufficiently reduce inflammation, thus lowering the risk of heart disease and other conditions like diabetes.
According to GreenMedInfo.com:
Several genes that promote inflammation were repressed by the phenol-rich extra virgin olive oil which researchers believe suggests that diet can switch the activity of immune system cells to a less inflammatory state.
What does this mean? It simply reiterates what numerous studies before have said: that the phenols in olive oil—extra virgin olive oil in particular—can have dramatic positive health benefits. By swapping out other oils with extra virgin olive oil, you could potentially reduce your risk of heart disease and other similar lifestyle diseases linked to inflammation.
Brief Overview of Olive Oil Labels
- Extra virgin - Usually the best quality olive oil. Extra virgin is the leaast processed and unrefined, and contains the highest levels of phenols and antioxidants.
- Virgin – Harnessing fewer phenols, antioxidants, and a less delicate taste, virgin is usually from the second pressing, but could come from the first pressing that does not meet the acidity and quality levels of extra virgin. This has fewer phenols and antioxidants and a less delicate taste.
- Pure - Pure olive oil is processed to some capacity, and can be filtered or refined.
- Extra light - This can actually be a mix of olive oil and other vegetable or canola oils. Extra light means the oil undergoes considerable processing. It is not a term regulated by law and in some instances is