Friday, December 18, 2009

Additional Sources for evidence of Olive Oil and Weight Loss

Olive oil is a basic part of the Mediterranean diet which is very beneficial for tasty and more enjoyable eating. Being the only vegetable oil that can be consumed as it is - freshly pressed from the fruit, Olive oil is a natural juice preserving the taste, aroma, vitamins and properties of the olive fruit. People who take olive oil diet notice several health benefits from olive oil.

Olive oil is an excellent source of antioxidants, capable of dousing inflammation, defending cells from menacing molecules, and much more. If taken in moderate amounts, olive oil helps in weight loss as it reduces your abdominal fat.

Health Benefits of Olive Oil

1. Olive Oil prevents you from Cancer

The mono unsaturated fat in olive oil has anti-cancer effects. Some people as an evidence to its benefits claim that olive oil helps in the cure of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Also a mono unsaturated fatty acid present in olive oil called Oleic acid claims to have significant protective effects against cancer. It reduces the effect of an oncogene, a gene that turns a host cell into a cancer cell.

2. Olive Oil lowers your blood pressure

A normal blood pressure should not be below 120/80. And if yours come in this range then do not panic. What is olive oil for? Olive oil has the capability to reduce the need for daily meds. So, always go for extra-virgin olive oil that has the maximum number of antioxidants and heat-sensitive vitamins.

3. Olive Oil reduces Cholesterol level in your arteries

Nothing better can come to your mind other than olive oil, when it comes to your heart. Olive oil stimulates good HDL cholesterol in your heart, lowers bad LDL cholesterol, and also it reduces other harmful blood fats (triglycerides). And the list does not end here only. Olive oil also reduces inflammation, another contributor to cardiovascular disease. The latest research shows that cardiovascular diseases are the top causes of death in the industrialized world.

Heart failures are a rare thing found among those who consume olive oil. Olive oil also prevents the formation of blood clots and platelet aggregation in your body.

4. Olive Oil leads to weight loss

You might also be aware of the fact that all the oils have the same calories but olive oil is the only one that helps in weight loss. But why so? The reason is that olive oil has a fuller flavor, so less is needed for tantalizing taste. Also the recent research shows that overweight people going for a much fatty diet -- including olive oil -- are more likely to lose weight than those who slash fat. Now again why? Because the rich flavor of olive oil makes it easier to stick with the program.

* 6 table spoons of Olive is more than enough for weight loss.

* Olive oil with lemon to remove kidney stones from your body.

5. Olive Oil relives you from headaches

Try adding extra virgin olive oil to your salad dressing or crisp-tender veggies, if you suffer from frequent headaches. This is because it contains oleocanthal, a natural compound that will block pain-producing and inflammatory substances and that also without causing any stomach upset. This painkiller has the capability to lower your risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis and possibly Alzheimers.

There are many more benefits of olive oil which a very few people on this earth really know. But what are they? Want to know? See below.

Navneet Brar is one of the very few who love to help others in need, just by sharing useful information on anything and everything on internet for FREE. So, go for more information on olive oil through more benefits of olive oil. And to get the latest updates on anything on internet, kindly visit his website

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Olive Oil as Weight Loss Enhancer

Natural Weight-Loss Food: Olive Oil

by About the Natural Weight-Loss Authors

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A Mediterranean-style diet, rich in olive oil, has proven valuable to the health of the people of that region for thousands of years. Within the last century its benefits have been scientifically acknowledged, investigated, and promoted for optimal health, including weight management.

Health Benefits

Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which promote heart health by decreasing "bad" LDL cholesterol without reducing the "good" HDL cholesterol. The invisible healers within this "liquid gold" also work to prevent cancer, inflammation, and may even play a helpful role in diabetes and weight loss.

Research indicates that replacing other types of fats with monounsaturated fats, especially olive oil, helps people lose weight without additional food restriction or physical activity (although doing so would further increase weight-loss!). A number of studies showed that when people substituted MUFA-rich olive oil for saturated fat, they ate less food and either maintained their weight or lost weight. Several other studies indicate that monounsaturated fat enhances the body's breakdown of stored fat.

Olive oil is a good source of vitamin E, carotenoids, and polyphenolic compounds.

Nutritional Values
Serving Size: 1 tablespoon

Olive oil has very few trace nutrients, with the exception of vitamin E. It has no carbohydrate, protein or fiber.

Calories: 119
Fat: 13.5 g
Saturated fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated fat: 10 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 1.5 g
Vitamin E: 2 mg

Selection and Storage

Extra virgin and virgin olive oils possess the monounsaturated fats (MUFA), nutrients, and phytochemicals that give health benefits your body will be happy to receive -- so choose them whenever possible.

Lite olive oils -- Also called "light" or "mild" -- have undergone an extremely fine filtration process (no heat or chemicals) to remove most of the natural color, aroma, and flavor. This makes them suitable for cooking or baking, where the fruity olive flavor would be objectionable. The terms "lite," "light," and "mild" can be used along with "extra virgin olive oil," "virgin olive oil," and "olive oil." In this case, the terms "lite" and "light" do not refer to fat content. These oils contain the same amount of fat and calories as any other oil (about 13 grams of fat and 120 calories per tablespoon).

To prevent the formation of cell-damaging free radicals, store olive oil in a cool, dark place; the refrigerator is ideal. The best storage containers for olive oil are either tinted glass (to keep out light) or a non-reactive metal such as stainless steel. Avoid most plastic. Oil can leach noxious substances, such as PVCs, out of the plastic and into the oil. Containers need to have a cap or lid for tight resealing to keep out unwanted air.

Preparation and Serving Tips

Consider keeping small amounts of olive oil at room temperature in a sealed container, such as in a small, capped porcelain jug that keeps out air and light. This way, olive oil is ready to use instantly. Refrigerated olive oil will become cloudy and solidify, making it difficult to use. Returning it to room temperature restores its fluidity and color.

Virgin and extra virgin oils are best used in uncooked dishes or at low-to-medium temperatures. Refined and "olive oil" grade oil are the choices for high-heat purposes such as frying. If you are heating oil and it smokes, throw it out and start over. That oil is damaged and no longer good for your health.

To enjoy olive oil, try it drizzled over salad, pasta, or cooked vegetables. Use olive oil to make healthful salad dressings or marinades. Use for dipping bread. Pour a little olive oil into a small side dish, then add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar. Use olive oil as the fat in sauces, using a whisk when adding it to a sauce to help emulsify or blend the watery ingredients with the oil. Use in place of butter on potatoes, vegetables, and bread.

Olive oil, when used as a substitute for other fatty oils, can help you maintain your weight-loss routine of healthy eating.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yes, Red Wine Holds Answer. Check Dosage.

Published: November 2, 2006

Can you have your cake and eat it? Is there a free lunch after all, red wine included? Researchers at the Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging report that a natural substance found in red wine, known as resveratrol, offsets the bad effects of a high-calorie diet in mice and significantly extends their lifespan.

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Doug Hansen/National Institute on Aging

Mice from a study done by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the National Institute on Aging on the effects of resveratrol.

Their report, published electronically yesterday in Nature, implies that very large daily doses of resveratrol could offset the unhealthy, high-calorie diet thought to underlie the rising toll of obesity in the United States and elsewhere, if people respond to the drug as mice do.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of grapes and in red wine and is conjectured to be a partial explanation for the French paradox, the puzzling fact that people in France enjoy a high-fat diet yet suffer less heart disease than Americans.

The researchers fed one group of mice a diet in which 60 percent of calories came from fat. The diet started when the mice, all males, were a year old, which is middle-aged in mouse terms. As expected, the mice soon developed signs of impending diabetes, with grossly enlarged livers, and started to die much sooner than mice fed a standard diet.

Another group of mice was fed the identical high-fat diet but with a large daily dose of resveratrol (far larger than a human could get from drinking wine). The resveratrol did not stop them from putting on weight and growing as tubby as the other fat-eating mice. But it averted the high levels of glucose and insulin in the bloodstream, which are warning signs of diabetes, and it kept the mice’s livers at normal size.

Even more striking, the substance sharply extended the mice’s lifetimes. Those fed resveratrol along with the high- fat diet died many months later than the mice on high fat alone, and at the same rate as mice on a standard healthy diet. They had all the pleasures of gluttony but paid none of the price.

Scientists have long known that a moderate intake of alcohol, and red wine in particular, is associated with a lowered risk of heart disease and other benefits. More recently, scientists began to suspect resveratrol had particularly powerful effects and began investigating its role in lifespan.

The researchers, led by David Sinclair and Joseph Baur at the Harvard Medical School and by Rafael de Cabo at the National Institute on Aging, also tried to estimate the effect of resveratrol on the mice’s physical quality of life. They gauged how well the mice could walk along a rotating rod before falling off, a test of their motor skills. The mice on resveratrol did better as they grew older, ending up with much the same staying power on the rod as mice fed a normal diet.

The researchers hope their findings will have relevance to people too. Their study shows, they conclude, that orally taken drugs “at doses achievable in humans can safely reduce many of the negative consequences of excess caloric intake, with an overall improvement in health and survival.”

Several experts said that people wondering if they should take resveratrol should wait until more results were in, particularly from safety tests in humans. Another caution is that the theory about why resveratrol works is still unproved.

“It’s a pretty exciting area, but these are early days,” said Dr. Ronald Kahn, president of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.

Information about resveratrol’s effects on human metabolism should be available a year or so, Dr. Kahn said, adding, “Have another glass of pinot noir — that’s as far as I’d take it right now.”

The mice were fed a hefty dose of resveratrol, 24 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Red wine has about 1.5 to 3 milligrams of resveratrol per liter, so a 150-lb person would need to drink 750 to 1,500 bottles of red wine a day to get such a dose.

Dr. Richard Hodes, director of the National Institute on Aging, which helped support the study, also said that people should wait for the results of safety testing. Substances that are safe and beneficial in small doses, like vitamins, sometimes prove to be harmful when taken in high doses, Dr. Hodes said.

One person who is not following this prudent advice, however, is Dr. Sinclair, the chief author of the study. He has long been taking resveratrol, though at a dose of only five milligrams per kilogram. Mice given that amount in a second feeding trial have shown similar, but less pronounced, results as those on the 24-milligram-a-day dose, he said.

Dr. Sinclair has had a physician check his metabolism, because many resveratrol preparations contain possibly hazardous impurities, but so far no ill effects have come to light. His wife, his parents, and “half my lab” are also taking resveratrol, he said.

Dr. Sinclair declined to name his source of resveratrol. Many companies sell the substance, along with claims that rivals’ preparations are inactive. One such company, Longevinex, sells an extract of red wine and knotweed that contains an unspecified amount of resveratrol. But each capsule is equivalent to “5 to 15 5-ounce glasses of the best red wine,” the company’s Web site asserts.

Dr. Sinclair is the founder of a company, Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, that has developed several chemicals intended to mimic the role of resveratrol but at much lower doses. Sirtris has begun clinical trials of one of these compounds, an improved version of resveratrol, with the aim of seeing if it helps control glucose levels in people with diabetes.

“We believe you cannot reach therapeutic levels in man with ordinary resveratrol,” said Dr. Christoph Westphal, the company’s chief executive.

Behind the resveratrol test is a considerable degree of scientific theory, some of it well established and some yet to be proved. Dr. Sinclair’s initial interest in resveratrol had nothing to do with red wine. It derived from work by Leonard Guarente of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who in 1995 found a gene that controlled the longevity of yeast, a single-celled fungus.

Dr. Guarente and Dr. Sinclair, who had come from Australia to work as a postdoctoral student in Dr. Guarente’s laboratory, discovered the mechanism by which the gene makes yeast cells live longer. The gene is known as Sir-2 in yeast, sir standing for silent information regulator, and its equivalent in mice and humans is called SIRT-1.

Dr. Guarente then found that the gene’s protein needed a common metabolite to activate it, and he developed the theory that the gene, by sensing the level of metabolic activity, mediates a phenomenon of great interest to researchers in aging, the greater life span caused by caloric restriction.

Researchers have known since 1935 that mice fed a calorically restricted diet — one with all necessary vitamins and nutrients but 40 percent fewer calories — live up to 50 percent longer than mice on ordinary diets.

This low-calorie-provoked increase in longevity occurs in many organisms and seems to be an ancient survival strategy. When food is plentiful, live in the fast lane and breed prolifically. When famine strikes, switch resources to body maintenance and live longer so as to ride out the famine.

Most people find it impossible to keep to a diet with 40 percent fewer calories than usual. So if caloric restriction really does make people as well as mice live longer — which is plausible but not yet proved — it would be desirable to have some drug that activated the SIRT-1 gene’s protein, tricking it into thinking that days of famine lay ahead.

In 2003 Dr. Sinclair, by then in his own laboratory, devised a way to test a large number of chemicals for their ability to mimic caloric restriction in people by activating SIRT-1. The champion was resveratrol, already well known for its possible health benefits.

Critics point out that resveratrol is a powerful chemical that acts in many different ways in cells. The new experiment, they say, does not prove that resveratrol negated the effects of a high-calorie diet by activating SIRT-1. Indeed, they are not convinced that resveratrol activates SIRT-1 at all.

“It hasn’t really been clearly shown, the way a biochemist would want to see it, that resveratrol can activate sirtuin,” said Matt Kaeberlein, a former student of Dr. Guarente’s who does research at the University of Washington in Seattle. Sirtuin is the protein produced by the SIRT-1 gene.

Dr. Sinclair said experiments at Sirtris had essentially wrapped up this point. But they have not yet been published, so under the rules of scientific debate he cannot use them to support his position. In his Nature article he therefore has to concede that “Whether resveratrol acts directly or indirectly through Sir-2 in vivo is currently a subject of debate.”

Given that caloric restriction forces a trade-off between fertility and lifespan, resveratrol might be expected to reduce fertility in mice. Dr. Sinclair said he saw no such infertility in his experiment, but he said that might be because the mice were not on a low-calorie diet.

If resveratrol does act by prodding the sirtuins into action, then there will be much interest in the new class of sirtuin activators now being tested by Sirtris. Dr. Westphal, the company’s chief executive, has no practical interest in the longevity-promoting effects of sirtuins and caloric restriction.

For the Food and Drug Administration, if for no one else, aging is not a disease and death is not an end-point. The F.D.A. will approve only drugs that treat diseases in measurable ways, so Dr. Westphal hopes to show that his sirtuin activators will improve the indicators of specific diseases, starting with diabetes.

“We think that if we can harness the benefits of caloric restriction, we wouldn’t simply have ways of making people live longer, but an entirely new therapeutic strategy to address the diseases of aging,” Dr. Guarente said.

Mayo Clinic Study on Red Wine and Health Benefits

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Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?

Red wine and something in red wine called resveratrol might be heart healthy. Find out the facts, and hype, regarding red wine and its impact on your heart.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Red wine, in moderation, has long been thought of as heart healthy. The alcohol and certain substances in red wine called antioxidants may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of "good" cholesterol and protecting against artery damage.

While the news about red wine might sound great if you enjoy a glass of red wine with your evening meal, doctors are wary of encouraging anyone to start drinking alcohol. That's because too much alcohol can have many harmful effects on your body.

Still, doctors do agree that something in red wine appears to help your heart, though it's unclear just exactly what that "something" is. Researchers think antioxidants, such as flavonoids or a substance called resveratrol, have promising heart-healthy benefits.

Antioxidants aren't the only substances in red wine that look promising. The alcohol in red wine also appears to be heart healthy. Find out what's known — and not known — about red wine and its possible heart-health benefits.

How is red wine heart healthy?

Research studies on the heart-health benefits of red wine have reported mixed results. Some studies show that red wine seems to have even more heart-health benefits than other types of alcohol, while other studies show that red wine isn't any better than beer, white wine or liquor for heart health. There's still no clear evidence yet that red wine is superior to other forms of alcohol when it comes to possible heart-health benefits.

The studies supporting red wine suggest antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. These antioxidants come in two main forms: flavonoids and nonflavonoids.

  • Flavonoids. These antioxidants are found in a variety of foods, including oranges, grape juice, apples, onions, tea and cocoa. Other types of alcohol, such as white wine and beer, contain small amounts, too, but red wine has higher levels.
  • Nonflavonoids. These antioxidants found in red wine have recently been of particular interest because they appear to help prevent arteries from becoming clogged with fatty blockages. However, these studies mostly involved mice — not humans. Resveratrol is the nonflavonoid that's received the most attention from researchers.

Resveratrol in red wine

Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces "bad" cholesterol and prevents blood clots.

Most research on resveratrol has been conducted on animals, not people. Research in mice given resveratrol has indicated that the antioxidant might also help protect them from obesity and diabetes, both of which are strong risk factors for heart disease. However, those findings were reported only in mice, not in people. In addition, to get the same dose of resveratrol used in the mice studies, a person would have to consume 100 to 1,000 bottles of red wine a day.

Some research shows that resveratrol could be linked to a reduced risk of inflammation and blood clotting, both of which can lead to heart disease. More research is needed before it's known whether resveratrol was the cause for the reduced risk.

Some companies sell supplements containing resveratrol. However, not enough is known about resveratrol's effects to endorse resveratrol supplements. Research into the potential heart-health benefits of resveratrol is continuing.

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Red wine and resveratrol: Good for your heart?

Resveratrol in grapes and other foods

The resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than is white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. Simply eating grapes, or drinking grape juice, has been suggested as one way to get resveratrol without drinking alcohol. Some studies have suggested that red and purple grape juices have some of the same heart-healthy benefits of red wine.

Other foods that contain some resveratrol include peanuts, blueberries and cranberries. It's not yet known how beneficial eating grapes or other foods might be compared with drinking red wine when it comes to promoting heart health. The amount of resveratrol in food and red wine can vary widely.

How does alcohol help the heart?

Various studies have shown that moderate amounts of all types of alcohol benefit your heart, not just alcohol found in red wine. It's thought that alcohol:

  • Raises high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the "good" cholesterol
  • Reduces the formation of blood clots
  • Helps prevent artery damage caused by high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the "bad" cholesterol

Drink in moderation — or not at all

Red wine's potential heart-health benefits look promising. Those who drink moderate amounts of alcohol, including red wine, seem to have a lower risk of heart disease. However, more research is needed before we know whether red wine is better for your heart than are other forms of alcohol, such as beer or spirits.

Neither the American Heart Association nor the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend that you start drinking alcohol just to prevent heart disease. Alcohol can be addictive and is associated with other health issues.

Drinking too much increases your risk of high blood pressure, high triglycerides, liver damage, obesity, certain types of cancer, accidents and other problems. In addition, even small amounts of alcohol can cause cardiomyopathy — weakened heart muscle — causing symptoms of heart failure in some people. If you have heart failure or a weak heart, you should avoid alcohol completely. If you take aspirin daily, you should avoid or limit alcohol, depending on your doctor's advice. You also shouldn't drink alcohol if you're pregnant. If you have questions about the benefits and risks of alcohol, talk to your doctor about specific recommendations for you.

If you already drink red wine, do so in moderation. Moderate drinking is defined as an average of two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

A drink is defined as 12 ounces (355 milliliters, or mL) of beer, 5 ounces (148 mL) of wine or 1.5 ounces (44 mL) of 80-proof distilled spirits.

The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more and have more of an enzyme that metabolizes alcohol than women do.

What Types of Red Wine Should I Drink?

A glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away

Is red wine the fountain of youth or a potent poison? Is enjoying a glass of red wine with dinner each evening beneficial to your health? Current research suggests that a glass of red wine each day may be providing you with more than just a little relaxation.

What are the health benefits of drinking red wine?
For over 10 years, research has indicated that moderate intake of alcohol improves cardiovascular health. In fact, in 1992 Harvard researchers included moderate alcohol consumption as one of the "eight proven ways to reduce coronary heart disease risk." However, research has suggested that specifically red wine is the most beneficial to your heart health. The cardioprotective effect has been attributed to antioxidants present in the skin and seeds of red grapes.

Scientists believe the antioxidants, called flavonoids, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in three ways:

  • by reducing production of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (also know as the "bad" cholesterol)
  • by boosting high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • by reducing blood clotting. Furthermore, consuming a glass of wine along with a meal may favorably influence your lipid profiles following that meal

Recently, researchers have found that moderate red wine consumption may be beneficial to more than just your heart. One study found that the antioxidant resveratrol, which is prevalent in the skin of red grapes, may inhibit tumor development in some cancers. Another study indicated that resveratrol aided in the formation of nerve cells, which experts believe may be helpful in the treatment of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Which wines should you consume to reap the most benefits?
Researchers at the University of California, at Davis tested a variety of wines to determine which types have the highest concentrations of flavonoids. Their results concluded that the flavonoid favorite is Cabernet Sauvignon, followed closely by Petit Syrah and Pinot Noir. Both Merlots and red zinfandels have fewer flavonoids than their more potent predecessors. White wine had significantly smaller amounts than the red wine varieties. The bottom line is the sweeter the wine, the fewer the flavonoids. Dryer red wines are your best bet for a flavonoid boost.

How much red wine should I drink?
A four-ounce glass of wine is equivalent to one serving. Men will benefit from consuming one to two servings per day. Women should consume only one serving per day to reap the maximum benefits. This is not to say that you should start drinking alcohol if you presently do not. Occasional or binge drinkers have higher mortality rates than those who drink moderately on a regular basis. In those who consume three or more drinks per day, there is an increased risk for elevated serum triglycerides (fat in the bloodstream). Long-term, excessive alcohol consumption can damage nerve cells, the liver and the pancreas. Heavy drinkers are also at risk for malnutrition, as alcohol may substitute for more nutritious foods.

What if I have other health problems?
Recommendations to consume moderate amounts of wine are limited to individuals with a clean bill of health. It is clear that people with medical and social conditions worsened by alcohol should not consume any alcohol at all. Hypertryglyceridemia, pancreatitis, liver disease, uncontrolled hypertension, depression and congestive heart failure are diseases that may be worsened by alcohol. Those individuals at risk for these conditions should consult with their physician before consuming any alcohol at all.

What about grape juice and non alcoholic red wine?
In 1997, researchers at the University of Wisconsin concluded that purple grape juice also reduced blood clotting. Another study by researchers at University of California at Davis, confirmed the findings that non alcoholic red wine contains the same antioxidant profile as red wine. However in a 1998 study, Japanese researchers found that while grape juice still had antioxidative benefits, it did not significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels compared to red wine.

The debate continues on whether it is the components of the wine, the way the wine is consumed, or the lifestyle traits that is the most responsible for the long healthy lives of many wine drinkers. However, the evidence seems clear that regular, moderate consumption of red wine is beneficial to your health. So here’s a toast to your health! Cheers!

Sip Red Wine for Best Benefits

'Sip red wine' for health

16 june 2009--Scientists have said that people should sip their wine to get its “cancer-busting antioxidant working”, the Daily Express reported. It said that the mouth absorbs 100 times more resveratrol, a compound in red wine, than the stomach. The newspaper said that resveratrol attacks cancer cells and can protect the heart and brain from damage.

This news story is based on a review of recent research on the effects of resveratrol on health, disease and longevity. The newspaper reports the authors as saying that the mouth absorbs 100 times more resveratrol than the stomach, but even so the human-equivalent doses of those demonstrating benefit in animal experiments “are well above those achievable... through a normal diet”. For instance, to get an equivalent dose to that which achieved a 50% extension in the lifespan of fish, a person would need to consume around 60 litres of red wine a day. Resveratrol has health improvement potential, but clearly more research in humans is needed.

Where did the story come from?

The research was carried out by Dr Lindsay Brown and colleagues from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in the US, the University of Debrecen in Hungary and the University Hospital of Heidelberg at Manheim in Germany. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Dietmar Hopp Foundation. It was published in the medical journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

What kind of scientific study was this?

This is a narrative review of recently published research on the potentially beneficial ingredients in red wine. The authors discuss how these ingredients, particularly polyphenols (chemical substances which include resveratrol), could work in the human body and their potential therapeutic uses.

Resveratrol is a type of compound known as a small polyphenol. It has been studied extensively in animals and insects and has been shown to extend the life of some yeasts, roundworms, fruit flies and obese mice given a high calorie diet. It is thought to have similar effects to a low calorie diet and to slow the aging process.

The authors discuss recent evidence of the effects of resveratrol and put forward some theories for how it might have these effects. In particular, they discuss the apparent contradiction that while low doses improve the survival of some cells, providing a cardioprotective or neuroprotective effect, it kills cancer cells when given in high doses.

They discuss research into the potential benefits of resveratrol on cancer, inflammation, gastrointestinal diseases, neuroprotection, diabetes, heart health, blood pressure, blood vessels and cellular health, structure and function.

The researchers also discuss what is known about how the ingredients in red wine may benefit the body. They talk about the “bioavailability” of resveratrol and other polyphenols, a property of a drug that describes how much of it enters the circulation and becomes “available” for the body to use.

What were the results of the study?

There are a number of different aspects to the researchers’ discussion into resveratrol. Some of the news reports of this research summarise them all, concluding that resveratrol has therapeutic potential, while the Daily Express focussed on the bioavailability of the compound.

What interpretations did the researchers draw from these results?

The researchers say that further research is needed to understand the role of resveratrol and other polyphenols, and how low to moderate amounts of red wine provide benefit compared to white wine, beer or spirits.

They say that the known harms associated with alcohol consumption have prevented a fully controlled clinical trial of the effects of moderate consumption of red wine on cardiovascular disease risk.

This narrative review discussed research on how resveratrol and other components of red wine may benefit health and how this might occur. Some news reports have focussed on one aspect of the review: the bioavailability of resveratrol. It is not clear where the Daily Express sourced the information that the mouth absorbs 100 times more resveratrol than the stomach.

The researchers note that, so far, the positive observations in research have been made with doses of resveratrol “that are well above those achievable in humans through a normal diet”. They say that red wine is almost the only source of resveratrol in the human diet. To achieve an equivalent dose to the one that apparently extended the lifespan of fish by 50%, a person would need to consume around 60 litres of red wine a day, which is certainly not feasible (or recommended!).

There is a growing body of evidence, largely from animal studies, that resveratrol can have a positive effect on health. Importantly, the researchers emphasise that red wine contains only a small amount of resveratrol and a human would need to drink an unrealistically large amount to have the same levels as those demonstrated in animal studies. Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with serious health risks and recommendations to drink in moderation should be taken seriously. If sipping wine prevents excessive alcohol intake then it should be encouraged, but human studies are needed to investigate the real health effects of red wine before it can be recommended for health reasons.

More Health Bennies of Olive OIl

Olive oil, extra virgin Olive oil, extra  virgin

Anyone coming from the Mediterranean region of the world would tell you about the health benefits, as well as the wonderful flavor, of a good dose of olive oil on salads, pasta, fish and almost anything else. Fortunately, it is available throughout the year to satisfy taste buds and promote good health.

Olive oil is made from the crushing and then subsequent pressing of olives. The fact that olives are rich in oil is reflected in the botanical name of the olive tree-Olea europea- since the word "oleum" means oil in Latin. Extra virgin olive oil is derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most delicate flavor and most antioxidant benefits.

Food Chart
This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Olive oil, extra virgin provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Olive oil, extra virgin can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Olive oil, extra virgin, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Health Benefits

Pure, extra virgin olive oil is not only a light and delicate addition to many wonderful dishes, it is one of the most health-promoting types of oils available. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat, a type of fat that researchers are discovering has excellent health benefits.

Protection Against Chronic Degenerative Disease

In many parts of the world, a high fat intake is associated with degenerative diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, asthma, colon cancer, and arthritis. But in some parts of the world, a high fat intake is actually associated with lower rates of these conditions. A closer look at the foods eaten in these places reveals that the high fat intake is actually due to the generous use of olive oil. Comparing these areas, such as the Mediterranean, where olive oil is the main fat used, to other regions, like the United States, where other fats such as animal fats, hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils like corn oil dominate, turns up some very interesting data. It turns out that people who use olive oil regularly, especially in place of other fats, have much lower rates of heart disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma.

Live Longer-Eat an Olive Oil-Rich Mediterranean-style Diet

In a prospective study (one in which participants are chosen and then followed forward in time) involving 5,611 adults 60 years or older, adherence to a Mediterranean style dietary pattern - characterized by high consumption of olive oil, raw vegetables, soups, and poultry - was associated with a significantly lower risk of death from all causes.

After 6.2 years, those most closely following a Mediterranean 'olive oil and salad' dietary pattern had a 50% reduced risk of overall mortality. Much less favorable were the results seen in those most closely following a 'pasta and meat' dietary pattern - characterized by pasta, tomato sauce, red meat, processed meat, added animal fat, white bread and wine - whose overall mortality risk increased.

Study authors concluded, "Dietary recommendations aimed at the Italian elderly population should support a dietary pattern characterized by a high consumption of olive oil, raw vegetables and poultry." (Masala G, Ceroti M, et al., Br J Nutr.)

Heart Health

Olive Oil Highly Protective against Heart Disease

Relying only on olive oil may cut your risk of coronary heart disease almost in half, show results from the CARDIO2000 case-control study, published in Clinical Cardiology (Kontogianni MD, Panagiotakos DB, et al.).

Conducted in Greece, and involving 700 men and 148 women with coronary heart disease, and 1078 age- and sex-matched healthy controls, this study looked not only at diet but also at alcohol intake, physical activity and smoking habits. Nutritional habits, including use of oils in daily cooking or preparation of food, was also evaluated.

Even after adjustments were made to account for a variety of other variables -- including body mass index, smoking, physical activity level, educational status, a family history of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes -- exclusive use of olive oil was associated with a 47% lower likelihood of having coronary heart disease.

Consuming other fats or oils as well as olive oil, however, conferred no protection.

The researchers concluded, "Exclusive use of olive oil during food preparation seems to offer significant protection against coronary heart disease, irrespective of various clinical, lifestyle and other characteristics of the participants."

Practical Tips:

  • Instead of serving butter, fill a small condiment dish with extra virgin olive oil for use on bread, rolls, potatoes or other vegetables.
  • For even more flavor, try adding a few drops of balsamic vinegar or a sprinkling of your favorite spices to the olive oil.
  • To get the most health benefit and flavor from your olive oil, buy and store oil in opaque containers, and add olive oil to foods immediately after cooking.

Studies on olive oil and atherosclerosis reveal that particles of LDL cholesterol (the potentially harmful cholesterol) that contain the monounsaturated fats of olive oil are less likely to become oxidized. Since only oxidized cholesterol sticks to artery walls, eventually forming the plaques that can lead to a heart attack or stroke, preventing the oxidation of cholesterol is a good way to help prevent atherosclerosis. A recent in vitro study also showed that polyphenolic compounds present in olive oil, including oleuropein, inhibit the adhesion of monocyte cells to the blood vessel lining, a process that is involved in the development of atherosclerosis. In addition, when people with high cholesterol levels removed the saturated fat from their diets and replaced it with olive oil, their total cholesterol levels dropped an average of 13.4%, and their LDL cholesterol levels dropped by 18%. Note, however, that these benefits occurred when they used olive oil in place of other fats, rather than simply adding olive oil to a diet high in unhealthy fats.

A study published in the Medical Science Monitor reported that 2 tablespoons a day of olive oil added to an otherwise unchanged diet in 28 outpatients, ranging in age from 64 to 71, resulted in significant drops in total- and LDL cholesterol. Mean concentrations of total cholesterol were lowered by 0.818 mmol/L, and mean concentrations of LDL dropped 0.782 mmol/L. Plus, subjects ratio of HDL:LDL greatly improved; they ended up with higher amounts of protective HDL in relation to lower amounts of dangerous LDL cholesterol.

Three other recent studies (Valavanidis et al.; Morella et al.; Masella et al., see references below) suggest that such heart-healthy effects from olive oil are due not only to its high content of monounsaturated fats, but also to its hefty concentration of antioxidants, including chlorophyll, carotenoids and the polyphenolic compounds tyrosol, hydrotyrosol and oleuropein-all of which not only have free radical scavenging abilities, but protect the vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) also found in olive oil.

Greek scientists at the University of Athens reporting their research in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry believe the synergy of all these beneficial nutrients is what is responsible for olive oil's contribution to the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, a hypothesis supported by Italian research published in the Journal of Nutrition.

In this study, scientists found that the phenols in olive oil have very potent antioxidant effects. The protective effects exerted by extra virgin olive oil biophenols, namely, protocatechuic acid and oleuropein, against LDL oxidation included:

  • completely preventing LDL's oxidation when placed in a medium containing macrophage-like cells (in the arteries, arteriosclerosis begins when macrophages damage LDL, starting the development of foam cells that infiltrate the lining of the artery and begin plaque formation)
  • inhibiting the production of two powerful oxidants that would normally have been produced and would have damaged LDL, thus preventing the expected decrease in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant the body produces to disarm oxidants (also called free radicals)
  • restoring to normal levels the protective activities of two free radical-disarming enzymes that contain glutathione: glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase
  • inducing higher than normal production and activity of both of these glutathione-containing enzymes.

Olive Oil, Super Food for the Heart

A review of the research by noted olive oil researcher Maria Covas strongly suggests that diets in which olive oil is the main source of fat can be a useful tool against a wide variety of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. (Covas MI, Pharmacology Research)

On November 2004, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S.A permitted a claim on olive oil labels concerning: "the benefits on the risk of coronary heart disease of eating about two tablespoons (23 g) of olive oil daily, due to the monounsaturated fat (MUFA) in olive oil."

But recent studies have shown that olive oil contains much more than MUFA. Olive oil is a functional food that is also rich in antioxidants and phenolic compounds with a variety of protective effects.

The cholesterol of a person whose diet is high in olive oil will primarily contain oleic acid, the fatty acid that predominates in olive oil, and oleic acid is more resistant to free radical or oxidative damage. And not only will the LDL of a person whose dietary fat is primarily olive oil produce LDL that is more resistant to free radical damage, but that individual's LDL will be further protected by olive oil's supplies of vitamin E and phenols with antioxidant activity, further lessening the likelihood of its being oxidized.

By reducing both inflammation and free radical damage to cholesterol, dietary olive oil protects the endothelium, the lining of our blood vessels, helping to maintain its ability to relax and dilate (thus preventing high blood pressure).

By protecting LDL against oxidation, olive oil short circuits the process through which atherosclerotic plaques form. (Only once oxidized does LDL adhere to the endothelium, attracting immune cells (monocytes) that try to clear it out, turn into foam cells and begin plaque formation.)

The anti-inflammatory effects of a virgin olive oil-rich diet also result in a vascular environment in which platelets are less likely to clump together and form blood clots. Not only do olive oil's antioxidant compounds lessen the inflammation initiated by free radical damage, but olive oil is rich in inhibitors of a compound called platelet activating factor (PAF). PAF begins the clotting process by causing platelets to aggregate and is also involved in the activation of immune cells and their binding to the endothelial wall.

Compared to diets high in saturated fat and low fat, high carbohydrate diets, a number of studies have shown that olive oil-rich diets not only reduce LDL cholesterol levels, but also lower blood sugar levels and decrease insulin requirements in persons with type 2 diabetes.

Practical Tip: Rely on delicious, flavorful virgin olive oil as your first choice for dressing salads. Put a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar on your bread plate and use it to add flavor to crusty whole wheat bread and rolls. Drizzle olive oil over potatoes, beans, grains, steamed vegetables, and soups. You will not only enhance the flavor of your food, but greatly reduce your cardiovascular disease risk.

Virgin Olive Oil the Best Oil for Heart Health

Virgin olive oil, a much richer source of polyphenols than refined olive or other refined oils, is the best vegetable oil for heart health, shows the results of the Eurolive study, published in the September 2006 Annals of Internal Medicine.

The 6 research center study, led by Maria-Isabel Covas of the Municipal Institute of Medical Research in Barcelona, assigned 200 healthy men from 5 European countries - Spain, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Germany - to one of three sequences of daily consumption of olive oil. The men replaced their normal dietary fats with olive oil (25 mL) containing either 2.7 (refined), 164 (virgin), or 366 (extra virgin) mg/kg of phenols for 3 weeks. This was followed by 2 weeks without any olive oil and then a cross-over to each of the other 2 remaining interventions.

Blood samples were taken before and after each intervention to measure blood sugar, total and HDL (good) cholesterol, triglycerides, free radical damage to cholesterol, and antioxidant levels.

The data revealed a linear increase in HDL (good) cholesterol levels as the phenolic content of the olive oil increased, with increases of 0.025, 0.032, and 0.045 mmol/L for the low, medium and high polyphenol-containing olive oils.

Oxidized LDL (the form in which LDL is involved in atherosclerosis) decreased linearly, dropping from 1.21 U/L , to -1.48 U/L , to -3.21 U/L for the low-, medium-, and high-polyphenol olive oil, respectively. And the ratio of total to HDL cholesterol, considered the most specific cholesterol-associated risk factor for cardiovascular disease, also decreased linearly as the phenolic content of the olive oil rose.

"Olive oil is more than a monounsaturated fat. Its phenolic content can also provide benefits for plasma lipid levels and oxidative damage," concluded the researchers.

A statement released by the Municipal Institute of Medical Research noted, 'This study represents a key piece for recommendations and contributes information with great repercussions for the community, especially in populations or countries where olive oil does not comprise the habitual oil of the diet."

Extra virgin olive oil-organic, if available-may cost a bit more than lesser quality oils, but the significant increase in cardiovascular benefits, not to mention richer flavor it provides, make it an extremely good investment in your health.

Key to the Mediterranean Diet's Ability to Lower Blood Pressure

Theodora Psaltopoulou and colleagues from the University of Athens, Greece investigated whether the Mediterranean diet as a whole, or just olive oil, is responsible for the reduction in blood pressure associated with this way of eating. Their finding: while the diet as a whole reduces blood pressure, olive oil, by itself, is largely responsible.

The Greek team examined the ability of the total diet and of olive oil alone to reduce arterial blood pressure. Their study included over 20,000 Greek participants who were free of hypertension (high blood pressure) when the study began. Food frequency questionnaires were completed and systolic and diastolic blood pressures were taken.

Diet was evaluated by a 10 point score that reflected the extent to which study participants followed the Mediterranean diet and also provided scores for individual components of the diet, including olive oil.

Data analysis confirmed that the Mediterranean diet as a whole was significantly associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure as were olive oil, vegetables and fruit. On the other hand, consumption of cereals, meat and meat products, and alcohol intake was associated with higher blood pressure. When the effects of olive oil and vegetables were compared, olive oil was found to be responsible for the dominant beneficial effect on blood pressure.

Polyphenols, not Fats, Responsible for Olive Oil's Benefits

It's likely the abundance of polyphenols in extra virgin olive oil, rather than its monounsaturated fatty acids, are responsible for its well-known cardiovascular benefits.

And its rich supply of polyphenols, which are known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticoagulant actions, may also be central to emerging evidence that olive oil's protective effects extend to colon cancer and osteoporosis (see Protection against Colon Cancer, Olive Oil Polyphenols Prevent Bone Loss also in this section).

Research conducted by Dr. Juan Ruano and colleagues at the Reina Sofia University Hospital, Cordoba, Spain, and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, investigated the effects of virgin olive oil on endothelial function in 21 volunteers with high cholesterol levels.

The endothelium, although just a one-cell thick layer of flat cells that lines the inner wall of all blood vessels, may be the critical player in cardiovascular health. Among its many functions, the endothelium orchestrates the mechanics of blood flow, and regulates blood clot formation and the adhesion of immune cells to the blood vessel wall (one of the first steps in the formation of plaque).

Normally, after a meal, endothelial function is impaired for several hours. Blood vessels become less elastic, and blood levels of free radicals potentially harmful to cholesterol (lipoperoxides and 8-epi prostaglandin-F2) rise.

But when the subjects in this study ate a breakfast containing virgin olive oil with its normal high phenolic content (400 ppm), their endothelial function actually improved, blood levels of nitric oxide (a blood vessel-relaxing compound produced by the endothelium) increased significantly, and far fewer free radicals were present than would normally be seen after a meal.

When they ate the same breakfast containing the same type of virgin olive oil with its phenolic content reduced to 80 ppm, the beneficial effects were virtually absent, and concentrations of cholesterol-damaging free radicals increased.

The results of this study underscore the importance of knowing how to select, store and serve your olive oil to maximize its polyphenol content. For all the information you need, see our How to Select and Store section below.

Olive Oil Especially Protective in People with High Cholesterol

A variation on the above study also shows that including some extra virgin olive oil (which is rich in clot-fighting phenols) in your meals may help prevent the formation of blood clots, an occurrence whose likelihood increases after eating, particularly in people with high cholesterol.

In the early stages of atherosclerosis, the balance between clot-promoting and clot-dissolving factors in the blood vessels shifts in favor of clot formation, a situation made even more dangerous by the high levels of fat that can appear in the blood after a meal.

Researchers had 21 people with high cholesterol eat two different breakfasts. For one week, they consumed either white bread with virgin olive oil containing 400 parts per million phenols, or white bread with olive oil from which much of the phenols had been extracted, leaving only 80 parts per million. Study participants then switched to the opposite meal. After the high-phenol olive oil meal, participants' concentrations of two clot promoters, factor VII antigen and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, were much lower compared to the low-phenol olive oil meal. (Ruano J, Lopez-Miranda J, et al., Am J Clin Nutr.)

Olive Oil Cardio-Protective - But Don't Overdo It

It's the Mediterranean version of the French paradox: in the REGICOR Study, conducted in Spain, researchers found a lower incidence of heart attacks despite a high prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Olive oil-which accounts for nearly 35% of calories and is the main source of fat in Mediterranean countries-was a likely explanation.

To investigate this, Maria-Isabel Covas, PhD, Head of The Research Group in Oxidative Stress and Nutrition at the Lipids and Cardiovascular Epidemiology Unit, Institute Municipal d́Investigació Mèdica, Barcelona, Spain, brought together an international team with partners from Denmark, Finland, Germany and Greece to collaborate in the EUROLIVE Project.

In addition to studies on the bioavailability of polyphenols from olive oil in humans, the EUROLIVE Project has conducted 6 clinical trials in which 3 olive oils, similar except for differences in their polyphenol content (low, 2.7 mg/kg; medium, 164 mg/kg; and high, 366 mg/kg), were given to healthy male volunteers in intervention periods of 3 weeks at doses of 25 mL/day.

Results of the EUROLIVE studies have shown that:

The higher the polyphenolic content of the olive oil, the higher the increase in levels of HDL "good" cholesterol. Average increase in HDL was 0.025 mmol/L for low, 0.032 mmol/L for medium, and 0.045 mmol/L for high phenolic olive oil, respectively. (Extra virgin olive oil contains the most polyphenols, followed by virgin olive oil, olive oil and a highly refined olive oil called "pomace.")

Subjects' atherogenic index (their ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol) and the oxidative (free radical) damage of cholesterol and other lipids decreased as the polyphenolic content of the olive oil increased. (Lipid oxidation--free radical damage to cholesterol and other fats-is considered a high risk factor for coronary heart disease development.

In men from Northern and Central Europe who do not typically eat a Mediterranean diet, daily consumption of 25 mL of olive oil resulted in a 3% decrease in systolic blood pressure.

Consuming 25 mL/day of olive oil, in replacement of other fats, did not cause weight gain.

A moderate amount of olive oil-a 25 mL dose (1.7 tablespoons)-did not promote postprandial (after meals) oxidative stress (free radical damage to cholesterol) whereas a single olive oil dose of 40 mL (2.7 tablespoons) did. Practical Tip: Olive oil, particularly extra virgin olive oil, provides a number of heart-healthy benefits-increasing HDL "good" cholesterol, improving the ratio of LDL:HDL, and, if you aren't already following a Mediterranean diet, may lower your systolic blood pressure as well. But don't overdo it. Consuming more than a couple of tablespoons at a meal can increase free radical damage of cholesterol.

Key to the Mediterranean Diet's Ability to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Olive oil may be the key reason that eating a Mediterranean diet reduces breast cancer risk, suggests a laboratory study published in the Annals of Oncology. Oleic acid, the main monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil, has been shown to reduce the expression of the Her-2/neu oncogene, which is associated with the aggressive growth of breast cancer tumors. High levels of Her-2/neu are found in one-fifth of breast cancers, especially those that are resistant to treatment.

In this study, when Menendez and his colleagues from Northwestern University in Chicago exposed two strains of aggressive breast cancer cells to oleic acid, levels of Her-2/neu dropped 46%. When they combined oleic acid with lower levels than are normally used of Herceptin, a drug used to treat breast cancer, oleic acid greatly enhanced the effectiveness of the drug, dropping Her-2/neu expression as much as 70%. The end result: oleic acid promoted the apoptotic cell death (suicide) of aggressive, treatment resistant breast cancer cells.

A human study adds to the evidence that olive oil is a key factor in the lowering of breast cancer risk associated with a Mediterranean diet. Results of this two-year long study involving 755 women in the Canary Islands suggest that monounsaturated fat and, specifically, olive oil exert a protective effect against breast cancer.

Study participants consuming the most monounsaturated fat were found to have a 48% lower risk of breast cancer compared to women whose intake of monounsaturated fat was lowest.

Among women consuming the most olive oil, specifically, the risk of breast cancer was even lower. Compared to those consuming the least olive oil, women whose daily intake of olive oil was at least 8.8 grams, the equivalent of just .65 tablespoon/day, had a 73% lower risk of breast cancer risk!

Better Blood Sugar Control

Studies in diabetic patients have shown that healthy meals that contained some olive oil had better effects on blood sugar even than healthy meals that were low in fat. When olive oil is used to enhance a low-saturated fat, high carbohydrate diabetic diet, the diet still has beneficial effects on blood sugar control. In addition to this, a good diabetic diet with some olive oil added helps to keep triglyceride levels low. Triglyceride levels tend to be high in diabetic patients, which is a problem since high levels also contribute to the development of heart disease. So a high carbohydrate, healthy diabetic diet with some olive oil added in can help for several reasons.

Helps Prevent Belly Fat and Improve Insulin Sensitivity

What you eat may affect where fat deposits on your body. Belly fat is associated with insulin resistance, which leads to further weight gain and increases risk of type 2 diabetes.

When researchers fed type 2 diabetic patients different diets - a high carbohydrate diet, or a diet rich in either saturated fat or olive oil (Mediterranean diet) - the high carb diet increased abdominal fat compared to the fat-rich diets. Of the three diets, the diet rich in olive oil did best, preventing not only belly fat accumulation, but the insulin resistance and drop in adiponectin seen after the high carbohydrate diet meals.

Adiponectin, a hormone produced and secreted by fat cells (adipocytes), regulates sugar and fat metabolism, improves insulin sensitivity, and has antiinflammatory effects on the cells lining the blood vessel walls. Low blood levels of adiponectin are a marker for metabolic syndrome, are common in obesity, and are also associated with increased heart attack risk.

Your diet supplies not just calories but information. The instructions delivered to your cells by a Mediterranean-type diet rich in monounsaturated fat from olive oil and nuts will improve your sensitivity to insulin, lower your blood sugar, and help prevent fat from collecting around your middle. (Paniagua JA, Gallego de la Sacristana A, et al., Diabetes Care)

Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

As far as other diseases go, regular use of olive oil has been associated with lower rates of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil are used by the body to produce substances which are relatively anti-inflammatory. By reducing inflammation, these fats can help reduce the severity of arthritis symptoms, and may be able to prevent or reduce the severity of asthma.

Minor components of extra virgin olive oil-namely, its squalene, beta-sitosterol and tyrosol -may help explain why the Mediterranean diet has shown such beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and cancer prevention, suggests a study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine. It is generally accepted in the medical community that excessive production of free radicals and inflammatory compounds derived from the body's use of omega-6 fatty acids (found primarily in meats, corn, safflower and sunflower oils) contributes to the development of both cardiovascular disease and cancer. In this study, researchers tested the effects of squalene, beta-sitosterol and tyrosol on a number of free radicals as well as on inflammatory compounds produced from omega-6 fats (arachidonic acid metabolites). In each case, the olive oil compounds either significantly inhibited production of the problem-causing molecules or rendered them harmless.

Olive Oil Phenols' Help Prevent Bone Loss

The bone-sparing effects of olive polyphenols revealed in studies conducted by a special team at INRA (France's National Institute for Agricultural Research) are so dramatic that a new Belgian firm, BioActor, has licensed INRA's patents to use olive polyphenols for osteoporosis prevention in food, supplements and herbal medicines.

The World Health Organization calls osteoporosis its biggest global healthcare problem with aging populations also beset by obesity, a condition now known to greatly increase inflammation throughout the body, including in bones where it significantly contributes to osteoporosis. Today, a woman's lifetime risk of osteoporotic fracture is 30-40%, and even men face about a 13% risk.

INRA researchers, inspired by epidemiological evidence that people eating a traditional Mediterranean diet were less likely to develop osteoporosis, began investigating the effects of olive oil and different compounds in olive leaves on bone metabolism.

Their early studies revealed that two olive polyphenols, oleuropin and hydroxytyrosol, greatly lessen the inflammation-mediated bone loss involved in osteoporosis.

Then they published research in the British Journal of Nutrition, showing that both oleuropein and olive-oil feeding can prevent inflammation-induced osteopenia (bone-thinning) in animals whose ovaries have been removed-an animal model designed to simulate senile osteoporosis, the bone-wasting condition that affects the elderly, as it combines both hormone deficiency with chronic inflammation.

Although the animals did not fully recover all their bone density compared to controls, those rats fed oleuropin (0.15g/kg) or olive-oil (50 g/kg) daily for 3 months recovered 70-75% of their bone density-a 50% improvement compared to control animals, which were given 25g/kg peanut oil and 25 g/kg rapeseed oil daily.

The INRA team, led by Dr. Veronique Coxam, is developing the protocol for a human study, which, if all goes well, could be started before the end of 2006.

Olive Oil Phenols Protect DNA from Free Radical Damage

Extra-virgin olive oil, which, when properly cold pressed and stored in opaque containers, is naturally high in phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties, may be one of the key reasons for the lower incidence of cancer and cardiovascular disease in the Mediterranean region, suggests a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

This randomized, crossover study involving 10 healthy postmenopausal women in Florence, Italy, found that when the women consumed extra-virgin olive oil high in phenols, their DNA experienced a whopping 30% less damage than that seen when they consumed an olive oil in which the content of phenols, which can be destroyed by light and heat, was low.

Be sure to buy only cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil sold in an opaque container or can to prevent its exposure to light and preserve its phenol content.

Potent Anti-Inflammatory Compound Discovered in Olive Oil

Could olive oil become the new anti-inflammatory standby? Someday soon, your doctor may recommend you prevent aches and pains, and reduce your risk of cancer, by telling you to enjoy extra-virgin olive oil with your meals throughout each day, suggests a study led by Pennsylvania biologist Dr. Gary Beauchamp and published in Nature.

Inspired by a tasting experience at a molecular gastronomy meeting in Sicily, where he noticed that high quality olive oil produced a throat-stinging sensation similar to that caused by ibuprofen, Beauchamp and his team analyzed freshly pressed extra-virgin olive oil and discovered a compound that suppresses the prostaglandin system, the same pain pathway as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, such as ibuprofen.

Although its chemical structure is quite different from the anti-inflammatory compounds in non-steroidal drugs, olive oil's anti-inflammatory component, which Beauchamp named "oleocanthal," has a similar effect.

A 50 gram dose (about 4 tablespoons) of extra-virgin olive oil supplies enough oleocanthal to produce an effect equivalent to that of about 10% of the ibuprofen dose recommended for adult pain relief.

While this amount won't cure a headache (and most people may not have the room in their diet for the calories and fat contained in 4 tablespoons of olive oil), daily consumption of olive oil may prevent inflammation and confer some of the benefits of long-term ibuprofen use-without the increased risk of intestinal bleeding and damage to the kidneys that long-term use of non-steroidal drugs like ibuprofen also carries.

Plus, extra-virgin olive oil can greatly enhance not just your health, but your enjoyment of your meals throughout the day.

  • For a really satisfying breakfast, add a tablespoon of olive oil to your morning frittata.
  • Dress up your luncheon salad with a second tablespoon and a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. Or place your olive oil and vinegar in a small dish and enjoy as a flavoring for a slice of crusty whole grain bread.
  • Enhance your dinner vegetables with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese and a third tablespoon of olive oil, and
  • Top off your brown rice or pasta.

Scientists believe this finding is significant because inflammation plays a key role in a variety of chronic diseases. "Some of the health-related effects of the Mediterranean diet may be due to the activity of oleocanthal from premium olive oils," said Beauchamp.

Dr Paul Breslin, who directed the research with Beauchamp, added: "The Mediterranean diet, of which olive oil is a central component, has long been associated with numerous health benefits, including decreased risk of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, and some dementias. Now that we know of oleocanthal's anti-inflammatory properties, it seems plausible that oleocanthal plays a causal role in the health benefits associated with diets where olive oil is the principal source of fat."

Although oleocanthal should be present in any extra-virgin olive oil, concentrations will vary depending upon a range of factors, including the variety of olive and the age of the olives at pressing.

The best way to check your olive oil for oleocanthal content? "Sip the oil neat and see how strongly it stings the back of the throat," recommends Breslin. "The greater the sting, the greater the oleocanthal content."

Supports Gastrointestinal Health

While most other fats are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer, olive oil is actually associated with a reduced risk of this disease.

One reason for olive oil's protective effect may be its ability to reduce the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HAs) formed when meats are cooked, suggests a study published in Food Chemistry Toxicology. The addition of foods containing antioxidants to recipes containing meat has previously been shown to decrease the amount of HAs produced during cooking. In this study, beefburgers were fried in both virgin and refined olive oils as well as virgin olive oil with rosemary extract and refined olive oil with rosemary extract. Burgers fried in virgin olive oil had significantly less HAs than those cooked in refined olive oil; however, the longer the oil was stored, the less its HA-reducing effect-a good reason to buy olive oil in small quantities that you will use within a month or two. Researchers theorized that adding rosemary to virgin olive oil might help prevent this drop in its protective effects.

The incidence of colon cancer is lower in Mediterranean countries compared with those in northern Europe, a benefit believed to be due to the central role of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet. Laboratory research published in the International Journal of Cancer further supports this hypothesis, showing that phenolic compounds in virgin olive oil protect against several stages of colon cancer development.

To investigate olive oils' protective mechanisms of action, researchers at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland extracted phenols from virgin olive oil and used them in a series of in vitro (lab test) experiments modeling important stages of colon carcinogenesis.

In one cell culture experiment, colon cells incubated with olive phenols for 24 hours were protected from hydrogen peroxide-induced DNA damage. The higher the level of olive oil phenols, the better the protection.

In a second cell culture, at 48 hours, olive phenols at a concentration of 50 μg/ml or more had significantly improved the barrier function of colon epithelial cells (the cells that form the lining of the colon), suggesting that the phenols might be exert an anti-promoter effect in the carcinogenesis pathway.

A third cell culture showed significant inhibition of HT115, a highly invasive human colorectal cancer cell line, at phenol concentrations of 25, 50, 75 and 100 μg/ml, indicating that olive oil phenols might also reduce the invasiveness of colon cancer cells.

Olive oil Effective against Helicobacter pylori

Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria that burrows into the gastric lining causing chronic inflammation and promoting the development of peptic ulcers and gastric cancer, is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

The search is on for other substances able to fight H.pylori with researchers increasingly turning not only to herbal extracts and essential oils used in traditional medicines, but to polyphenol-rich foods.

Virgin olive oil, one of the few edible oils that is consumed unrefined, contains a number of active phytonutrients. Having run experiments on food-borne pathogens that showed olive oil polyphenols have a very high level of antimicrobial activity against food-borne pathogens, Concepcion Romero and her colleagues at the University Hospital of Valme, Seville, Spain, decided to in investigate olive oil's effects on H.pylori.

Using conditions that simulated the human gastric environment, Dr. Romero and her team demonstrated that a significant amount of the polyphenols in the olive oil diffused from the oil into the stomach acid and remained stable for several hours, exerting strong anti-H.pylori activity, even against some strains resistant to antibiotics.

Also, only very low concentrations of the olive oil extracts were necessary. Among the polyphenols showing anti-H.pylori activity, one named Ty-EDA was so effective that only <1.5>H.pylori cells in test tube experiments. To put this in practical perspective, Ty-EDA is present in most virgin olive oils in concentrations up to 240 μg/mL.

While these results need confirmation in human studies, they are quite promising, especially given earlier Russian research involving olive oil and gastric ulcer. In this study, when patients with gastric and duodenal ulcers replaced the animal fat in their diet with olive oil, ulcer size was greatly reduced and the percentage of ulcer healing significantly increased. (Taits NS, cited in de la Lastra A, et al.,Current Pharmaceutical Design).

Practical Tip: Promote your gastrointestinal health by replacing the butter and refined oils in your diet with extra virgin olive oil. Since the phenols and vitamin E in olive oil are damaged by light and heat, purchase and store your olive oil in an opaque container. And don't use olive oil for cooking. Steam or lightly sauté foods in a flavorful broth, then dress with olive oil immediately after cooking. You'll get more flavor and more nutrients from your oil.

A Fat That Can Help You Lose Fat

Substituting olive oil, a monounsaturated fat or MUFA, for saturated fat in your diet can translate into a small but significant loss of both body weight and fat mass without changing anything else about your diet or increasing your physical activity, suggests a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition. One of the most interesting facts about this research is that it was conducted on eight overweight or obese men, ranging in age from 24 to 49 years. All the men followed one of two diets for 4 weeks each. The first, saturated fat-rich diet provided 24% of calories from saturated fat, 13% from monounsaturated fat, and 3% from polyunsaturated fat, while in the second MUFA-rich diet, 11% of calories came from saturated fats, 22% from monounsaturated fat and 7% from polyunsaturated fat. At the end of the MUFA-rich diet, despite the fact that no significant differences were detected in caloric intake, energy expenditure or physical activity, the men were 2.1 kg lighter and their fat mass had decreased by 2.6 kg.

Additional support for olive oil's fat burning effects comes from another study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, which suggests that the monounsaturated fats found in olive oil cause an increase in the breakdown of fats in fat cells (adipocytes). In this study, 45 laboratory animals were divided into three groups, each of which was fed a diet supplying normal energy but a different type of fat: olive oil, palmitic acid or soybean oil + palmitic acid. At the end of the study, a number of indicators of fat metabolism were measured including body weight, plasma leptin, tissue concentration of fatty acids, fat-cell size, fat cell lipolytic (fat breakdown) activity, and the capacity of insulin to inhibit fat breakdown. In the animals receiving monounsaturated fats, not only was fat breakdown greater, but insulin's ability to block it was lower. Interestingly, in rats given polyunsaturated fat in the form of soybean oil, the opposite effect was noted in adipose (fat) tissue.

Extra virgin olive oil is definitely one of the best food oils available today. Simply adding olive oil to an unhealthy diet that is already soaked in saturated fats or vegetable oils will not lead to any of the benefits listed above and may actually cause more harm than good, but when pure, extra virgin olive oil is used as a primary source of fat in a whole foods, healthy eating plan, the potential goodness of this oil prevails.


Olive oil is made from the crushing and then subsequent pressing of olives. The fact that olives are rich in oil is reflected in the botanical name of the olive tree-Olea europaea-as oleas means oil in Latin.

Olive oil is available in a variety of grades, which reflect the degree to which it has been processed. See How to Select and Store for more information on these different grades of olive oil.


Olives, one of the oldest foods known, are thought to have originated in Crete between five and seven thousand years ago. Since ancient times, the olive tree has provided food, fuel, timber and medicine for many civilizations, and has been regarded as a symbol of peace and wisdom. The venerable oil of the olive has been consumed since as early as 3,000 B.C.

Olives were brought to America by the Spanish and Portuguese explorers during the 15th and 16th centuries. They were introduced into California by the Franciscan missionaries in the late 18th century. Olive oil has been and still is a staple in the diet of many Mediterranean countries. The recent discovery that the Mediterranean diet, which features this prized oil, may be linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and other health conditions has caused olive oil to become very popular in the United States in the past few decades. Today, much of the commercial cultivation of olive oil is still centered in the Mediterranean region in such countries as Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Turkey.

How to Select and Store

Since olive oil can become rancid from exposure to light and heat, there are some important purchasing criteria you should follow to ensure buying a better quality product. Look for olive oils that are sold in dark tinted bottles since the packaging will help protect the oil from oxidation caused by exposure to light. In addition, make sure the oil is displayed in a cool area, away from any direct or indirect contact with heat.

When you shop for olive oil, you will notice a host of different grades are available, including extra-virgin, fine virgin, refined and pure.

  • Extra-virgin is the unrefined oil derived from the first pressing of the olives and has the most delicate flavor.
  • Virgin is also derived from the first pressing of the olives but has a higher acidity level than extra virgin olive oil (as well as less phytonutrients and a less delicate taste)

    Chemically, the difference between extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil involves the amount of free oleic acid, which is a marker for overall acidity. According to the standards adopted by the International Olive Oil Council, "virgin" can contain up to 2% free oleic acid, while "extra virgin" can contain up to 0.8% of free oleic acid.

  • Pure oil is a bit of a misnomer. Don't be fooled if you see the term "pure" on the label; it means the oil is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils.

Another term that you may see on a bottle of olive oil is "cold pressed." This term means that minimal heating was used when mechanically processing the olives to make oil.

Proper storage techniques for olive oil are very important, not only to preserve the delicate taste of the oil, but also to ensure that it does not spoil and become rancid, which will have a negative effect on its nutritional profile.

Even though olive oil's monounsaturated fats are more stable and heat-resistant than the polyunsaturated fats that predominate in other oils (especially the easily damaged omega-3 fatty acids found in flax seed oil, which should always be refrigerated and never heated), olive oil should be stored properly and used within a few months to ensure its healthy phytonutrients remain intact and available.

Research conducted at the University of Lleida in Spain and reported in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that levels of chlorophyll, carotenoids and antioxidant phenols dropped dramatically after virgin olive oil had been in storage 12 months-even under the best controlled conditions.

Chlorophyll content dropped by as much as 30%; beta-carotene by 40%, and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) by 100%!

Phenols, which are not only the main antioxidants in virgin olive oil, but are also responsible for its distinctive rich flavor, also dropped precipitously after 12 months storage.

Research published in New Scientist magazine has confirmed that light destroys many of the antioxidants in olive oil. Researchers at the University of Bari, in southern Italy, compared oils stored in the light or in the dark for 12 months. Oils stored in clear bottles under supermarket lighting lost at least 30% of their tocopherols (vitamin E) and carotenoids.

After just two months' exposure to light, peroxide (free radical) levels had increased so much that the olive oil could no longer be classified as extra virgin.

Tinted glass containers screen out some light, but non-reactive dark plastic or metal containers are the best choice for preserving olive oil's beneficial compounds.

If purchasing oil in tinted glass containers, choose those at the back of the grocery shelf out of direct light. Unless you are certain turnover is rapid at your grocery, ask your grocer how long the olive oil has been out on the shelf. Buy your olive oil in smaller containers and store it in the dark. Leaving a bottle of olive oil out on your kitchen counter or dining room table will lessen its health-giving properties.

Be Sure to Choose Extra Virgin (or at least Virgin) Olive Oil

A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition indicates that virgin olive oil provides significantly greater protection against free radical damage to LDL cholesterol-one of the first steps in the initiation of atherosclerosis. In this double-blind, cross-over, randomized clinical trial, 30 healthy volunteers were given three similar olive oils whose concentration of antioxidant phenols ranged from 0 to 150 mg/Kg. The three olive oils were each given for 3 weeks, preceded by a 2-week washout period. After each 3-week phase, the amount of oxidized (damaged) LDL in volunteers' blood was analyzed, and in test tube studies, their LDL's ability to resist damage was evaluated. Not only did consumption of virgin olive oil result in less oxidized LDL, and LDL that was more damage resistant, but virgin olive oil was also more effective in raising levels of HDL, the protective form of cholesterol, than the other oils.

The take home message:

Since you phytonutrients are more concentrated in extra virgin olive oil found in opaque, airtight glass bottles or tins, this is your best bet when purchasing olive oil for both your taste enjoyment and your health.

Purchase only as much as you will use in three to four months and store away from light and heat. Protect your olive oil's flavor and antioxidants by transferring a week to 10 days' worth of oil to a smaller bottle to lessen the oxidation that occurs when the oil is exposed to air. Leave this small bottle at room temperature for easy use, but refrigerate the rest. When chilled, olive oil will solidify slightly and turn cloudy, but once restored to room temperature, it will regain its normal appearance, and its quality will be better maintained. Although it may be convenient, definitely don't store your olive oil near the stove as the heat will damage it.

How to Enjoy

For some of our favorite recipes, click Recipes

A Word About Heating

Different manufacturers list different smoke points for their olive oils, and some manufacturers list a temperature very close to smoke point as their maximum limit for safe heating of the oil. When these temperatures might be correct for avoiding large amounts of some harmful substances that can be created through heating of the oil, they are not correct limits for preserving the unique nutrients (especially polyphenols) found in high-quality, extra virgin olive oil. Oxidation of nourishing substances found in extra virgin olive oil, as well as acrylamide formation, can occur at cooking temperatures very closer to the 300F range. For these reasons, we recommend a much stricter heating standard involving very little or no heating when enjoying this delightful oil.

If You're Going to Stir Fry Your Broccoli in Oil, Use Extra Virgin Olive or Sunflower Oil

Broccoli is known to be a rich source of cancer-preventive glucosinolates, phenols, vitamin C and minerals (potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper). Stir-frying methods that would best maintain broccoli's rich array of nutrients were investigated by Spanish researchers.

When they stir-fried freshly harvested broccoli florets in various edible oils (extra virgin olive oil, refined olive oil, sunflower oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, and safflower oil), they discovered that levels of vitamin C and phenolic compounds were more affected than those of minerals and glucosinolates. Only broccoli lightly stir-fried in extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil retained the same glucosinolate and vitamin C levels as uncooked broccoli. J Food Sci. 2007 Jan;72(1):S064-8. While we recommend cooking your broccoli by using either George's healthy sauté method (in which a few tablespoons of broth are used during cooking instead of oil, and the vegetable dressed with oil immediately afterwards), or light steaming, if you must use oil, select an organic extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil, and be sure to stir fry for the shortest amount of time.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas:

Use extra virgin olive oil in your salad dressings.

Purée roasted garlic, cooked potatoes and extra virgin olive oil together to make exceptionally delicious garlic mashed potatoes. Season to taste.

Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over healthy sautéed vegetables before serving.

Purée extra virgin olive oil, garlic and your favorite beans together in a food processor. Season to taste and serve as a dip.

Instead of putting the butter dish out on the table, place a small cup of extra virgin olive oil out instead to use on your bread or rolls. For extra flavor, try adding a little Balsamic vinegar or any of your favorite spices to the extra virgin olive oil.

Individual Concerns

Olive oil is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines.

Nutritional Profile

Olive oil is a concentrated source of monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Extra-virgin olive oil also contains polyphenolic phytonutrients that have antioxidant activity.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Olive oil.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Olive oil, extra virgin is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1.00 tbs
14.00 grams
126.00 calories
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
very goodDV>=50%ORDensity>=3.4ANDDV>=5%

In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Olive oil, extra virgin


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