Mäni’s Morsel: Is it Olive Oil or Olive “Oilay”?



According to "Olive Oil Health & Nutritional Information", since 11/01/04, the Food and Drug Administration (USA) now permits the following claim on olive oil labels:

"Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about two tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil should replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total amount of calories you eat in a day."

We all know that olive oil is good for you, and many believe it’s an "elixir of life", that not only helps prevent heart attacks and arteriosclerosis, it protects against colon cancer, reduces the effects of aging, and may even act as an aphrodisiac!

imageHmmm …for the aphrodisiac effect do we drink it or just rub it all over each other? Was there a deeper symbolic meaning in the fact that Popeye had a thing for Olive Oil?

We may never know, but…

what we do know is that our beloved olive oil (the oil, not the woman) is one of the highest -if not the highest- in monounsaturated fat. This type of fat is known to lower blood cholesterol levels.

Olive oil is readily absorbed by the body and is an excellent source of Vitamin E, phenols and other substances known to be "anti oxidizing" thus protecting the body from the negative effects of free radicals and as a result it is helpful in delaying the aging process.

image Studies of countries along the Mediterranean have shown that heart disease is lower there than would be expected by cholesterol levels. Perhaps this is due to the high olive oil content in the diet of the region.

Research shows that diets that include olive oil were associated with less arteriosclerosis. Arteriosclerosis is a disease of the walls of the arteries where fats are deposited, and inflammation changes causes scarring and narrowing, which can eventually cause clots and total blockage.

Blockages can cause strokes and heart attacks. High levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood accelerate the fat deposits while HDL cholesterol seems to be protective.

High in HDL cholesterol, olive oil is therefore thought to help against the occurrence of blockages and thus reduce the risk of heart disease.

Studies show that diets high in fat increase the risk of colon cancer. Tests showed that olive oil lowers the incidence of bowel tumors; perhaps partly due to a lowering of inflammation chemicals in the gut.

Some studies, though not conclusive, suggest olive oil decreases the incidence of breast cancer as well.

image However, according to Web MD Health, in the largest study ever done on the Mediterranean diet, researchers found that "the real bang of this ballyhooed magic bullet" wasn’t due to olive oil alone, but it’s use in combination with all of the food in the diet.

So, although olive oil may not be the key to the fountain of youth, it certainly seems to play a central role in an "anti aging" well balanced lifestyle.

Which brings us to The Mediterranean Diet

Log on next week for the rest of the story as well as some examples of how Mäni’s Menu can support this well balanced lifestyle!

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