Olive oil has appeared in the news again as a Spanish research study concluded that
consumption of olive oil has a beneficial effect on different cardiovascular risk factors, particularly in the presence of obesity, impaired glucose tolerance or a sedentary lifestyle.
Although the risks associated with cardiovascular disease have risen in recent years in Spain, this has not been backed up by a rise in its prevalence. The researchers decided to study the association between consuming olive oil and the presence of diabetes, heart disease or stroke risk in a large study of the Spanish population. They studied over 4500 individuals of both sexes over the age of 18.
About 90% of the population use olive oil for dressing and slightly fewer for cooking and frying.
People who used olive oil as opposed to sunflower oil had a lower risk of obesity and impaired glucose regulation (a risk factor for diabetes). They also showed a lower incidence of high triglyceride levels (triglycerides are fats that circulate in the blood and indicate a higher risk of atherosclorosis – furring of the arteries). Their risk of having low HDL (high density lipoproteins – good cholesterol) levels was also reduced.
Other studies have shown that olive oil can be beneficial in preventing osteoporosis as it appears to improve bone mineralization and calcification – helping calcium absorption.
Virgin olive oil is rich in oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fatty acid, and contains several active compounds such as antioxidants. A moderate and regular intake of virgin olive oil is associated with low incidences of specific types of cancer, including breast cancer, as well as with having a protective role against high blood pressure and incidence of depression.
It is easy increase the amount of olive oil in your diet:
- Drizzle neat on salads or use olive oil to make up a dressing
- Use on bread instead of spreads
- Use lower quality olive oils for frying gently (you should never heat oils to high or ‘smoking’ temperatures)
- Flavour your own olive oils by adding herbs or chilli and allowing the flavour to develop
If you have any health concerns about your diet and would like advice on improving the way you eat, get in touch with Pippa Mitchell our Nutritional Therapist on 01483 527945.