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Therapeutic Benefits of Olive Oil

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mediterraneandiet.gr
November 9, 2006

The health and therapeutic benefits of olive oil were first mentioned by Hippocrates, the father of medicine. For centuries, the nutritional, cosmetic and medicinal benefits of olive oil have been recognized by the people of the Mediterranean.

Olive oil was used to maintain skin and muscle suppleness, heal abrasions, and soothe the burning and drying effects of sun and water. Olive oil was administered both internally, and externally - for health and beauty.

Recent research has now provided firm proof that a Mediterranean diet, which includes olive oil, is not only generally healthy, but that consuming olive oil can actually help lower harmful LDL cholesterol.

Olive oil contains "antioxidants' that discourage artery clogging and chronic diseases, including cancer. There are three kinds of dietary fats: saturated (animal), polyunsaturated (plants, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils), and monounsaturated (olive oil). From a nutritional standpoint, all types of olive oil are approximately the same, with 80% monounsaturated, 14% saturated, 9% polyunsaturated fats on average.

Olive oil is rich in vitamins A, B-1, B-2, C, D, E and K and in iron. Olive oil, which is beneficial to the digestive system, does not necessarily keep you thin; it contains just as many calories as other oils (9cal/g).Olive oil acts as a mild laxative, is a friend to the intestine and an enemy of ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil is a good tonic, with "specific benefits" for people suffering from heart disease.

Olive oil has been regarded as the "beauty oil". The body's cells incorporate the valuable *fatty acids* from the oil, making arteries more supple and skin more lustrous. The amount of oleic acid in
olive oil is about the same as that found in a mother's milk and is thus the best growth supplement for infants.

Drunk before a meal, olive oil protects the stomach from ulcers. If a spoon or two is taken with lemon or coffee, it prevents constipation without irritating the intestinal tract.

It is also effective in treating urinary tract infections and gall bladder problems.It is a perfect remedy for gastritis in children, it accelerates brain development and strengthens the bones.

Olive oil dissolves clots in capillaries, has been found to lower the degree of absorption of edible fats, and consequently slows down the "aging process".

Only animal-derived foods contain cholesterol. Olive oil is cholesterol-free.

Cholesterol is not entirely harmful; it is an essential building block for cell membranes, nerve fiber coverings, vitamin D and sex hormones.

The body manufactures all the cholesterol it needs, so any cholesterol in foods we eat is excessive. Excess cholesterol causes a gradual accumulation of fatty deposits and connective tissue, known as plaque, along the walls of blood vessels.

Eventually, plaque builds up, narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow, in this way increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and is vital for the structure of cell walls.

In order to circulate through the bloodstream, it is "packaged" in fatty-protein wrappings called "lipoproteins". The low-density lipoproteins (LDL) distribute cholesterol throughout the body, dropping it off where needed.

The liver also packages another type of cholesterol called high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which *picks-up* circulating cholesterol and "returns" it to the liver for reprocessing, or excretion.

The LDLs are the ones that build up the walls of the arteries and so are tagged "bad" cholesterol. HDLs carry cholesterol away.

So the more HDLs there are, the easier it is to unblock paths and rid the body of unwanted cholesterol. What the body really needs is a good HDL/LDL ratio. Polyunsaturated oils lower LDL ("bad") and HDL ("good") levels. Monounsaturated oils (such as olive oil), lower only LDL cholesterol, leaving HDLs to help clean out arteries.

Animal fats, which contain saturated fatty acids, exponentially increase blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fatty acids lower both LDL and HDL levels in the blood, but they do not affect their ratio.

Monounsaturated fatty acids on the other hand control LDL levels while raising HDL levels.

No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated fatty acids as olive oil, which mainly contains *oleic acid*. The modest amount of well-balanced polyunsaturated fatty acids in olive oil is well protected by *antioxidant* substances.

It is widely believed that antioxidant substances such as vitamins E, K and polyphenols found in olive oil provide a defense mechanism that delays aging and prevents carcinogenesis, therosclerosis, liver
disorders and inflammations.

Since olive oil is not 'tortured' during extraction, these substances are left unspoiled, making the olive oil very stable even when frying. So contrary to common belief, olive oil undergoes a smaller degree of deterioration during frying than other oils. Due to its chemical structure, olive oil is of unrivaled organoleptic value and thus the oil best suited for human consumption. It is very well tolerated by the stomach. In fact, its protective function has a beneficial effect on gastritis and ulcers.

It is a cholagogue, activating the 'secretion' of *pancreatic hormones* and bile much more naturally than prescribed drugs.

Consequently, it lowers the incidence of cholelithiasis (gallstone formation). Its excellent digestibility promotes the overall absorption of nutrients, especially vitamins and mineral salts. It has a positive effect on constipation.

Bones need a large amount of oleates and what source could be better than olive oil?

Promoting bone mineralisation, it is excellent for infants and the elderly who have bone calcification problems. It also has beneficial effects on brain and nervous system development as well as on
overall growth.

It shields the body against infection and helps in the healing of tissues, internal and external.

Olive oil is a panacea, the perfect oil for all ages. And every time scientists look into the reasons behind an olive oil advantage empirically known and employed by the peoples of the Mediterranean,
it is certain that they will come across evidence of yet another unique biological attribute.

Olive Oil and Health

As doctors said, prevention is number one factor for good health. Speaking as simple as we can and without the use of special medical terms we must point out the following:

1.Many diseases are caused by the incontrollable receipt of food, especially food containing in excess saturated fatty acids (animal fats), leading to arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Medical studies indicate that Mediterranean countries and specifically Greece, where olive oil consumption is high, suffer less cardiovascular problems from any other country in the world where the ratio of the consumption of animal fat is high or simply the nutrition parameters are poor.

By reducing the animal fats and increasing olive oil in our diet we obtain a perfect combination for the prevention of such fatal diseases, like arteriosclerosis and heart attacks.

2.The problems in bile area torture millions of people on our planet. The bad function of the bile and the formation of gallstone are problems difficult to cure and most of the times medical surgery is the only solution available.

Recent medical studies proved that olive oil, perfectly compatible with human body needs, creates a natural tie to those liquids that result in the formation of the gallstone mitigating pain and annoyance in bile's area.

3.Millions of people around the world suffer by stomach problems and related diseases. Very serious is the gastric ulcer disease. As it is known the use of olive oil in nutrition is a beneficial factor for the function of the digestive system due to its property of keeping low the percentage of HCl in our stomach.

Thus, the olive oil helps the normal function of the digestive system reducing to minimum the chances of ulcer creation and the other relative diseases, not to mention that is the best natural medicament for the fight against constipation.

It has been also proved that the use of olive oil in nutrition helps to sustain:

1.Human metabolism at a good balance, body's growth and bone growth at a good level. It is obvious that olive oil means good health and development for our children.

2.Good level of Vitamin E in our body. This vitamin has the property to delay the change of the cellular structure which leads to natural decadence, the people's aging, so one of the best medicaments for
delaying aging is the olive oil. On the other hand, as we all know, Vitamin E improves our sexual life.

So one can say that olive oil is by itself an aphrodisiac! Last but not least, is the unique property of olive oil to dissolve useful substances coming from food that cannot be absorbed by the human
body.

Olive oil is used in everyday cooking. It can be used in salads or added in the cooking process of almost any recipe. Olive Oil is the healthiest type of oil with 0% cholesterol, rich in Vitamins against
aging and perfect even for frying dishes. Olive oil is the best nutritional gift we can offer to ourselves. Olive oil helps us keep good in health making our life pleasant.

Aromatic Olive Oil

Aromatic olive oil has been produced in Greece since time immemorial.

It is mainly used for its medicinal, astringent and antioxidant properties, provided by the herbs and spices added to it.

Scientific research has proven that many herbs contain antioxidant substances that prevent olive oil from being oxidised and improve its flavour. In contrast, substances negatively affecting olive oil
include garlic, onion, peppers and the peels of acidic citrus fruit.

Aromatic olive oil is produced from high quality oil with subtle aromatic tones and a non-distinctive flavour, with the addition of spices, aromatic herbs or even fruit and vegetables spices: cardamom, coriander, cedar fruit, nutmeg, cumin seed, aniseed, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, guinea grains, fennel seed.

Herbs and aromatic plants: basil, bay, oregano, marjoram, mint, sage, spearmint, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, savory, fresh fennel, coriander, parsley, dill.

Vegetables: red hot peppers, red sweet peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, capers, Chinese mushrooms, truffles.



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