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Oleic acid (monounsaturated fatty acid) is the main component of olive oil (it represents between 55 and 83% of the fatty acid content). The replacement of saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet, such as those containing olive oil, helps improve blood cholesterol levels, thereby helping to reduce one of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease.
Olive oil polyphenols contribute to the protection of blood lipids, one of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, vitamin E, another powerful natural antioxidant, has a protective effect on cells against oxidative damage. A daily consumption of 20 grams of olive oil rich in polyphenols provides these benefits.
The consumption of oleic acid and antioxidant substances present in olive oil, especially in virgin and extra-virgin oils, has a beneficial effect on blood cholesterol, helping to reduce one of the risk factors of cardiovascular disease when saturated fats are replaced in the diet with unsaturated fats, such as olive oils. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease.
The consumption of olive oils has a beneficial impact on cardiovascular health and quality of life in old age.
The PREDIMED study, the most comprehensive research to date on the effect of the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil in individuals at high risk, affirms that people who followed this diet had a 30% reduced risk of heart disease or stroke.
The PREDIMED study also concluded that the participants who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (about 37 grams a day) showed up to a 40% lower risk of developing diabetes than those who followed a low-fat diet.
Researchers from the San Carlos Gestational Diabetes Prevention Study have demonstrated that pregnant women who eat a healthy diet rich in extra virgin olive oil can reduce their risk of developing gestational diabetes by up to 30%. Similarly, they have determined that these women give birth to healthier children, who show a significant reduction in the number and duration of hospital admissions for all causes during the first two years of life.
Researchers in the PREDIMED study also took the mental health of elderly participants into consideration, analyzing aspects such as memory, spatial orientation, and calculation ability.
They concluded that individuals who followed the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil showed better mental abilities than those assigned to a low-fat diet.
Researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona sought to understand the effect of the consumption of various oils in individuals affected by breast cancer. They confirmed that those who include extra-virgin olive oil in their diet develop smaller and less aggressive tumors, which therefore have better diagnosis than in cases with other types of oils.
For years, experts have been warning of the risks that obesity has on health, and they recommend a return to the Mediterranean diet pattern as the best antidote to this condition. In that regard, the PREDIMED study found that participants who had their diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil (about five tablespoons a day), managed to maintain their weight, and even tended to lose weight, compared to those who followed a low-fat diet.