Olive oil and its benefits for the body Beneficios del aceite de oliva

 extra virgin olive oil and its benefits for the body

 

The consumption of fats is essential for our bodies since they give us the energy to carry out our daily activities.  Within fats, the most healthy are the monosaturated fats, namely, those that are predominant in virgin olive oil.

98 % of virgin olive oil is made up of triglycerides (composed of glycerol and fatty acids). The extra virgin olive oil contains unsaturated fatty acids (Hamitic, stearic and mysteric), monounsaturated (oleic and palmitic) and polyunsaturated (linoleic and linolenic). Of these fatty acids, the most abundant in the extra virgin olive oil is oleic acid. This element possesses hugely beneficial properties for the human body, especially in the cardiovascular field and for the liver. As can be seen in the table below, oleic acid is present in an average of 75 % of the total content of virgin olive oil; a higher figure than in the rest of the oils.

In addition to the triglycerides, virgin olive oil has other components that, although it possesses them in smaller quantities, they are no less important. Among them are the polyphenols that act as antioxidants on the body, sterols, and tocopherols, and most importantly vitamin E.

 

Composition of fatty acids of extra virgin olive oil from Lower Aragón

Comparison chart of different types of oils with extra virgin olive oil from Bajo Aragon

Extra virgin olive oil in addition to containing vitamin E, contains other vitamins. Among them are vitamin A which contributes to the maintenance of the skeletal and soft tissue, good eyesight, skin and the prevention of infections. Virgin olive oil also contains vitamin D that regulates the absorption of calcium for the bones and vitamin K that helps with the coagulation of the blood and generates red blood cells.

All of these components give extra virgin olive oil characteristics that make it unique. The so-called "yellow gold" was an element much appreciated by the ancient inhabitants of the Mediterranean who, through observations and experiments, discovered the biological properties of this substance. In the last few years numerous studies have shown the beneficial effects of virgin olive oil on the human body helping in the prevention of numerous diseases and ailments.

Virgin olive oil has numerous beneficial properties for health 

Extra virgin olive oil has many qualities that make it very healthy for our body

 

Benefits for the digestive system

It has been shown the the consumption of extra virgin olive oil diminishes the acidity in the stomach. Also, it inhibits gastric secretion, which helps prevent stomach ulcers.

Further more, extra virgin olive oil improves the intestinal absorption of various nutrients and minerals such as iron and zinc. These elements form salts with the fatty acids, improving the blood flow. For that, it contributes to the control of diseases such as anaemia.

Extra virgin olive oil also acts in a beneficial manner when it comes to expelling gallstones. Oleic acid operates on the hormone colecistoquina that induces contractions in the gallbladder and alters the composition of bile by decreasing its ability to generate calculations.

 Recent studies have demonstrated that olive oil helps to regulate the secretion from the pancreas.

 

Benefits for the cardiovascular system

A large number of investigations have demonstrated that extra virgin olive oil, as a major component of a Mediterranean diet, helps to prevent cardiovascualr diseases. Since 1955, doctors from Grande Covián (University of Zaragoza), Keys and Anderson proposed the "lipid hypothesis" and found it to be true. This hypothesis states that increased blood cholesterol is linked with the consumption of saturated fatty acids, while unsaturated ones do not have this effect. Therefore, the consumption of products such as olive oil or bluefish, rich in unsaturated fatty acids, do not increase colesterol.

Extra virgin olive oil prevents cardiovascular diseases

Numerous studies have shown that consumption of extra virgin olive oil helps prevent heart disease.

Drawing on a study made in 2006 by Scientists from the University of Málaga in collaboration with other universities and financed by the Misnistry of Health, consisting of the consumption of olive oil during three months, found the following: it decreased blood pressure of patients, decreased total cholesterol and increased the protective effect of "good" cholesterol.

It has also been shown that consumption of extra virgin olive oil improves blood circulation through stimulation of the production of antiplatelet and vasodilatory eicosanoids (messengers in the central nervous system). It also helps prevent heart disease, decreasing the oxidation capacity of LDL "bad" cholesterol.  

Benefits for oxidative processes

Due to its high antioxidant component through vitamin E and polyphenols, its richness in monounsaturated fats and its micronutrients, consumption of extra virgin olive oil prevents cellular oxidation thereby helping to avoid diseases and even premature aging.  This was confirmed at the Conference on Olive Oil and Health held in Córdoba and Jaén in 2008.

 

Benefits for obesity and diabetes patients

Obesity is a disease that increasingly more people suffer from due to the physically inactive lifestyles that are practiced today.  Thanks to studies conducted by numerous institutions , amongst them the service of Endocrinology and Nutrition of Carlos Haya Hospital in Malaga city, it has been shown that virgin olive oil is also capable of regulating the metabolism and maintaining body weight.

The consumption of extra virgin olive oil decreases the levels of obesity. This is due, above all, to its high content of oleic acid. Virgin olive oil decreases the inflammatory response, the origin of this disease, and improves postprandial hyperlipidemia, ie. excess fat in the blood after eating food.

To end this list of the many benefits of extra virgin olive oil, it can be said that their intake is also beneficial for diabetes patients. Consumption of olive oil reduces blood glucose, ie, the measure of blood glucose concentration, thereby reducing insulin resistance of patients and reducing the daily dose needed.

 

Extra virgin olive oil is an essential element in the Mediterranean diet

Extra virgin olive oil is an essential element in the Mediterranean diet

After this brief analysis of the benefits of olive oil for our health, it is evident that the consumption of this rich product is essential in our diet and and integral to our health. The practice of the Mediterranean diet most definitely helps our quality of life.

 

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