Scientific studies have proven that olive oil is rich in bioactive ingredients and can therefore assist with:
- Anti-tumorigenic effects
- Antimicrobial effects
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- Cardioprotective Effects
- Against Alzheimer’s disease
- Fighting diabetes
- Decreasing “bad” cholesterol (LDL)
- Slowing down the aging process
A scientific study proved that the essence of olive oil known as oleocanthal possesses antitumorigenic properties. The results of the study were published on January 23, 2015.
The following researchers: nutritional scientist Paul Breslin (University of Rutgers), biologist David Foster (Hunter College), and chemist Onica Le Gendre (Hunter College), discovered during a laboratory study that the component called oleocanthal can cause a part of the cancer cell to burst, thus releasing enzymes and leading to its death, without harming any healthy cells.
Although suspicions that oleocanthal could potentially kill cancer cells had been voiced in the past, that was the first time a scientific study had examined the actual process of this phenomenon. It confirmed the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of extra virgin olive oil as well as the benefits of a diet rich in olive oil, such as the Mediterranean Diet.
Oleocanthal was revealed to be unable to dissolve in the stomach, thereby assisting in inhibiting the growth of the Helicobacterpylori bacterium, which is responsible for the development of peptic ulcers and certain types of cancer (Romero C. etal., 2007).
According to the research of professor Beauchamp of the University of Philadelphia, olive oil rich in oleocanthal also has anti-inflammatory effects. This study demonstrated that oleocanthal, the essence of olive oil, shares the same properties with ibuprofen, a substance widely used in anti-inflammatory drugs.
A clinical study conducted by the Department of Nutrition of the Davis University in California and the Nutrition Research Center of the US Department of Agriculture showcased that the Greek high quality extra virgin olive oil that is rich in oleocanthal can contribute to the protection of the cardiovascular system.
The aforementioned study was realized in collaboration with Dan Flynn, director of the Olive Center of the University of California, and was carried out by Roberta R. Holt, Karan Agrawal, Selina Wang, Theresa Pedersen, Eleni Melliou, Prokopios Magiatis & John W. Newman.
A study of the University of Louisiana published in the prestigious ACS Chemical Neuroscience journal revealed that the essence of olive oil known as oleocanthal has neuroprotective properties and helps shield the brain against Alzheimer’s disease.
The scientists of the University of Louisiana researched the effect of oleocanthal on brain cells. It was discovered that it contributed to the increased production of proteins and enzymes in the body that help remove beta-amyloid peptides – responsible for causing Alzheimer’s disease – from the brain.
A scientific study conducted by researchers of the Institute of Biomedical Research in Malaga (IBIMA) and published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, discovered that taking small doses of hydroxytyrosol usually reduces – and may even prevent – vascular inflammation or vascular disease associated with diabetes.Hydroxytyrosol is a type of phenolic compound naturally present in olive oil, characterized by significant antioxidant properties.
Sirtori (1986) claimed that when olive oil is consumed as the sole source of fat for the body, especially by individuals with diabetes, it acts by slowly releasing the contents of the stomach into the duodenum, thereby regulating blood glucose concentration in a more effective manner.
When it does not exceed a certain limit, cholesterol is vital for the structure of cell walls. However, cholesterol that is synthesized in the liver cannot move by itself in the body.
This is why lipoproteins are needed. The two main types of lipoproteins are LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and HDL (high-density lipoprotein).
LDL is tasked with carrying cholesterol to the cells. Unfortunately, the paths towards the cells are often too narrow for LDL, therefore resulting in a gradual obstruction of the arteries. The higher the levels of HDL in the blood, the easier it becomes to “open the pathways” and rid the body of unwanted cholesterol. The body needs a balanced ratio of HDL / LDL.
Olive oil consumption increases the synthesis and concentration of HDL (good cholesterol) while also rendering LDL (bad cholesterol) weaker and not as likely to induce atherosclerotic lesions, by preventing its oxidation and by modifying the size of its molecules.
In conclusion, olive oil regulates LDL levels while increasing HDL levels, thereby directly affecting the incidence of heart attacks. The fact that monounsaturated fatty acids contribute to the decrease of the risk of cardiovascular disease was first licensed by the US Food and Drink Federation in 2004.
One of the most common theories attempting to explain the process of aging is the study of the harmful effects of oxygen free radicals in living organisms. Free radicals are highly unstable and highly reactive molecules or atoms that have one free unpaired electron in their outer layer.
These oxidizing substances, in their effort to increase their stability, “steal” electrons from other molecules, thus triggering a chain reaction which creates other free radicals. Free radicals have been associated with a variety of diseases and significantly contribute to the acceleration of the aging process and the rate at which it progresses. In order to protect its cells from oxidative stress, the body needs an extensive defense system, namely antioxidants.
The antioxidants contained in olive oil may be able to slow down the aging process.
Thanks to the antioxidant properties of polyphenols and Vitamin E, the skin is naturally protected from premature aging.
• Prokopis Magiatis, Associate Professor, University of Athens, Department of Pharmacy