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Olive trees can live to be hundreds of years old, and often rejuvenate themselves after being burned or damaged in other ways. Olive oil users have reasons to think that they might live a long time also. Olive oil appears to protect the bones, joints, skin, liver and heart. It may even slow aging. The major fatty acid of olive oil is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA) constituting 55-83% of total fatty acids. Olive oil also contains saturated fatty acids (8-14%), polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs at 4-20%), and other important minor constituents, particularly antioxidants, such as vitamin E and polyphenols. The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidant substances.

Olive oil is a fresh ingredient and should be treated as such. Buy no more than you can use in a 60-90 day period. Store unopened oil in a cool, dark place and once opened, it keeps best refrigerated. If the oil forms solids in the refrigerator, place in a bowl of warm water or set out at room temperature briefly to dissolve solids before use.

Virgin Olive Oil
There are three levels of virgin olive oil which are obtained from the first pressing of the fruit. The three levels are based primarily on differences in acidity. The three levels are extra virgin, virgin and semi-fine virgin. To receive the title 'extra' virgin oil, it must achieve a high quality color and flavor and have an acidity of less than 1%. Virgin oil has up to 4%. The full aroma and flavor of extra-virgin olive oil adds authenticity to a wide variety of Mediterranean cuisine, including pizza and pasta dishes, and is also ideal for dressing salads. For professionals, the less acidic the finer the oil.

Pure Olive Oil
Virgin olive oil is a blend of cold-pressed virgin oil and refined olive oil that has been treated with chemicals and then heated and filtered. The color of the oil is normally paler and the flavor blander and less distinctive. Pure olive oil can fulfill all the functions of extra-virgin olive oil in recipes where a less pronounced flavor is required. It may also be used as a base for home-made salad dressings, mayonnaise and marinades.

Light Olive Oil
Light olive oil, which has a very mild flavor, is produced from the last pressing. This highly refined oil is an innovation which, with its mild flavor and light texture, has firmly established olive oil as an everyday cooking oil. Light olive oil retains all the health benefits, whilst it's high smoke point and slower breakdown, compared to other oils, makes it ideal for either deep or shallow frying, stir-frying and baking.
 

 
 

Olive Oil can help with the following:
 
 
Circulation  Hypertension
 The relationship between dietary fats and blood pressure is not definitively answered. However, evidence suggests that the multiple components of the Mediterranean diet, i.e. low saturated fatty acids (SFAs), high monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), and carbohydrate, fiber, and micronutrient content have favorable blood pressure effects, and therefore that this diet is desirable for health. Dietary MUFAs may have a greater protective effect than initially realized.

In 207 men without hypertension, 175 men with hypertension, 406 women without hypertension and 232 women with hypertension, the risk of hypertension was positively and independently associated with the intake of cooking oil polar compounds (read polyunsaturated oils), and inversely related to blood levels of monounsaturated fatty acids (read primarily olive oil). [Am JClin Nutr. 2003;78: pp.1092-1097]

Examples of foods high in MUFA are olives, olive oil, canola oil, peanuts, peanut oil, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, and avocados.

Lab Values

  Elevated Total Cholesterol
 Monounsaturated fatty acids - as contained in olive oil - reduce total and LDL cholesterol concentrations without reducing the levels of HDL cholesterol, thus leading to favorable changes in the serum lipid profile and possibly to changes in the physico-chemical properties of lipoproteins. In this way, olive oil with its high monounsaturated fatty acid content may contribute to the prevention and management of hypercholesterolaemia, a dominant risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis, and to the prevention of CHD.

  Elevated LDL/HDL Ratio

Risks

  Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
 (2008) Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain have discovered two chemicals found in extra-virgin olive oil-lignans and secoiridoids-block the HER2 protein that causes breast cancer tumors to grow more rapidly than other forms of the disease.

"Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress over-expression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells," wrote study authors Javier MenÚndez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Antonio Segura-Carretero from the University of Granada.

According to a report in Newsmax, the researchers believe their study may lead to the development of drugs based on the cancer-fighting chemicals.

"These findings, together with the fact that humans have safely been ingesting significant amounts of lignans and secoiridoids as long as they have been consuming olives and extra-virgin oil, strongly suggest that these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti breast-cancer drugs," wrote MenÚndez and Segura-Carretero.

Tumors, Malignant

  Breast Cancer
 (2008) Researchers from the University of Granada in Spain have discovered two chemicals found in extra-virgin olive oil-lignans and secoiridoids-block the HER2 protein that causes breast cancer tumors to grow more rapidly than other forms of the disease.

"Our findings reveal for the first time that all the major complex phenols present in extra-virgin olive oil drastically suppress over-expression of the cancer gene HER2 in human breast cancer cells," wrote study authors Javier MenÚndez from the Catalan Institute of Oncology and Antonio Segura-Carretero from the University of Granada.

According to a report in Newsmax, the researchers believe their study may lead to the development of drugs based on the cancer-fighting chemicals.

"These findings, together with the fact that humans have safely been ingesting significant amounts of lignans and secoiridoids as long as they have been consuming olives and extra-virgin oil, strongly suggest that these polyphenols might provide an excellent and safe platform for the design of new anti breast-cancer drugs," wrote MenÚndez and Segura-Carretero.
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help







GLOSSARY

Antioxidant:  A chemical compound that slows or prevents oxygen from reacting with other compounds. Some antioxidants have been shown to have cancer-protecting potential because they neutralize free radicals. Examples include vitamins C and E, alpha lipoic acid, beta carotene, the minerals selenium, zinc, and germanium, superoxide dismutase (SOD), coenzyme Q10, catalase, and some amino acids, like cystiene. Other nutrient sources include grape seed extract, curcumin, gingko, green tea, olive leaf, policosanol and pycnogenol.

Fatty Acids:  Chemical chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms that are part of a fat (lipid) and are the major component of triglycerides. Depending on the number and arrangement of these atoms, fatty acids are classified as either saturated, polyunsaturated, or monounsaturated. They are nutritional substances found in nature which include cholesterol, prostaglandins, and stearic, palmitic, linoleic, linolenic, eicosapentanoic (EPA), and decohexanoic acids. Important nutritional lipids include lecithin, choline, gamma-linoleic acid, and inositol.

MUFA:  A Monounsaturated Fatty Acid is missing one pair of hydrogen atoms in the middle of the molecule. The gap is called an "unsaturation." Monounsaturated fatty acids are found mostly in plant and sea foods. Olive oil and canola oil are high in monounsaturated fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated:  Polyunsaturated fats or oils. Originate from vegetables and are liquid at room temperature. These oils are a good source of the unsaturated fatty acids. They include flaxseed with added vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), sunflower oil, safflower oil, and primrose oil.

PUFA:  A Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid is missing more than one pair of hydrogen atoms. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are mostly found in plant and sea foods. Safflower, sunflower, corn and soy oil are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Vitamin E:  An essential fat-soluble vitamin. As an antioxidant, helps protect cell membranes, lipoproteins, fats and vitamin A from destructive oxidation. It helps protect red blood cells and is important for the proper function of nerves and muscles. For Vitamin E only, 1mg translates to 1 IU.