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.
Scientists have pinned down the constituent of olive oil that gives greatest
protection from heart attack and stroke. 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.”