Not all olive oils are created equal

Volume 5    |    Issue 92

You're probably very familiar with the health benefits of olive oil. But did you know that all olive oils are not created equal?

If you really want to reap the health benefits of olive oil, it's crucial that you procure extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the only form of olive oil that retains its natural phenols (antioxidants) and other active compounds. EVOO is minimally processed, whereas other oil grades, such as virgin, "pure," or "light," have been industrially refined and the healthful phenols destroyed.

But there's something else you need to know about EVOO's health-promoting properties — they have a relatively short shelf life. Recent studies have found that the potent phenols decline by 40% after only six months.

So how can you be sure you're getting the freshest, most healthful EVOO? Simply select EVOO from the most recent olive harvest. This is the best strategy for obtaining the highest-quality, highest-phenolic oil. This can be a little tricky to keep track of — I know I can't keep up with it. So here's a source — the only one I know of — that procures independently lab certified EVOO according to the global harvest schedule.

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With this type of "scheduled" olive oil, the many health benefits of olive oil are right at your fingertips — or at the tip of your tongue. To me, one of the most exciting benefits of olive oil is its ability to prevent type-2 diabetes, as has been shown in several studies. In the recent PREDIMED study (a long-term nutritional intervention study aimed to assess the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet), the group of people who ate an olive oil-rich Mediterranean diet reported 40% fewer cases of diabetes than the control group (who did not consume olive oil). In another study, which evaluated people at risk for diabetes, two tablespoons per day of EVOO, along with fiber, reduced fasting and 2-hour glucose (blood sugar) to normal, non-diabetic levels.

The reason this is exciting to me is because diabetes increases your risk for so many other health problems. This includes breast cancer, heart disease, dementia, and overall inflammation. We know that olive oil protects against breast cancer. A lower incidence of breast cancer in Mediterranean countries compared to other Western nations suggests that a diet rich in olive oil confers cancer-protective effects. Olive oil consumption is also inversely related to breast density: women who consume greater amounts of olive oil are less likely to have high breast density, a risk factor for breast cancer. And it helps breast-cancer survivors keep their weight down.

In addition, olive oil's ability to reduce the risk of heart disease is well documented. Just two tablespoons of EVOO per day can reduce your risk of heart disease by improving blood cholesterol levels: lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and increasing HDL ("good") cholesterol. The EVOO also reduces inflammation. Combined, this reduces your risk of blood clots, stroke, and dementia.

Many of these benefits come from olive oil's anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory effects. To experience these and other therapeutic effects of olive oil, remember to buy certified extra virgin olive oil from the latest harvest. The freshest EVOO has a higher phenolic content — and offers greater health benefits.

Your insider for better health,

Sources:

Baiano A, Gambacorta G, Terracone C, Previtali MA, Lamacchia C, La Notte E. Changes in phenolic content and antioxidant activity of Italian extra-virgin olive oils during storage. J Food Sci. 2007;74(2):177–183.

Barros CR, Cezaretto A, Curti MLR, et al. Realistic changes in monounsaturated fatty acids and soluble fibers are able to improve glucose metabolism. Diab Metab Syndr. 2014;6(136):1–8.

Covas MI, Nyyssönen K, Poulsen HE, at al. The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006;145:333–341.

Flynn M, Reinert SE. Comparing an olive oil–enriched diet to a standard lower-fat diet in breast cancer survivors: a pilot study. J Womens Health. 2010. 19(6):1155–1161.

Flynn M, Wang S. Olive oil as medicine: the effect on blood lipids and lipoproteins. UC Davis Olive Center Report. March 2015.

Larsen LF, Jespersen J, Marckmann P. Are olive oil diets antithrombotic? Am J Clin Nutr. 1999. 70:976–982.

Liao S, Li J, Wei W, et al. Association between diabetes mellitus and breast cancer risk: a meta-analysis of the literature. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2011;12(4):1061-5.

Lovgren S. Olive oil fights heart disease, breast cancer, studies say. National Geographic News. March 21, 2005.

Owen RW, Haubner R, Würtele G, Hull WE, Spiegelhalder B, Bartsch H. Olives and olive oil in cancer prevention. Eur J Cancer Prev. 2004;13(4):319–326.

Parkinson L, Keast R. Oleocanthal, a phenolic derived from virgin olive oil: a review of the beneficial effects on inflammatory disease. In J Mol Sci. 2014;15:12323–12334.

Salas-Salvado J, Bulio M, Babio N, et al, for the PREDIMED Study Investigators. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):14–19.

Valls-Pedret C, Ros E, Sala-Vila A, et al, for the PREDIMED Study Investigators. Mediterranean diet and age-related cognitive decline: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(7):1094–1103.

Waterman E, Lockwood B. Active components and clinical applications of olive oil. Alt Med Rev. 2007;12(4)331–342.

Steve Kroening

Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.

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For over 25 years, Editor-In-Chief Steve Kroening has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Frank Shallenberger, Janet Zand, Nan Kathryn Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.

Steve researches breakthrough cures and treatments you won't hear about from mainstream medicine or even other "alternative" writers. He writes in a friendly, easy-to-read style that always gives you the power to guide your own health choices and do more research on your own.