it is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, one of the foods, because it is a food, most studied by science that has shown its very important health benefits, also thanks to the more than 30 different types of phenolic compounds, in short, an irreplaceable superfood. We are talking about extra virgin olive oil. This type of olive oil is obtained from the first pressing of the olives, which must always and only take place mechanically and never chemically. But what are the properties of extra virgin olive oil? Let's try to understand better based on the latest scientific research.
Extra virgin olive oil, anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties
Extra virgin olive oil contains phenolic compounds and particular substances called secoiridoids that are characterized by important anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anticancer properties. Among the secoiridoids of extra virgin olive oil we can mention, for example, oleacin, capable of inhibiting the proliferation of diseased cells, tyrosol, which has been shown to counteract some types of cellular degeneration such as colon cancer, and oleuropein, which helps to stimulate apoptosis of diseased cells in case of skin and breast cancers (Emma et al, Int J Mol Sci, 2021).
Extra virgin olive oil, protects bones
Osteoporosis is the result of an imbalance between the formation and resorption processes of bone tissue, with a prevalence of the latter. Osteoblasts are cells that play a major role in the processes of bone formation and repair. Well, some antioxidants present in extra virgin olive oil, such as apigenin, luteolin, ferulic and caffeic acid, are capable of increasing the proliferation of osteoblasts and therefore the regeneration of bone tissue (Melguizo-Rodríguez et al, Nutrients, 2019).
Extra virgin olive oil for muscle health
A diet too rich in saturated fats can lead, in the long run, to a condition of insulin resistance and to a deterioration and atrophy of the muscles. Saturated fats are found in products of animal origin such as, for example, milk, cheese and meat and in some oils of vegetable origin such as coconut and palm oil. Well, the replacement of saturated fats with extra virgin olive oil has led to a correction of these adverse effects. Not only that, if an active life with moderate exercise is combined with a diet that includes the use of extra virgin olive oil, the combined action of the antioxidant properties of extra virgin olive oil with physical activity shows further protection for muscles (Yeo et al, J Nutr Biochem, 2021).
Extra virgin olive oil, useful for heart health
Extra virgin olive oil, but not olive oil, has been shown to protect the heart thanks to its high antioxidant content. In fact, the inclusion in the diet of 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil a day has shown, in three weeks, to reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol, which is the part of cholesterol that plays a primary role in the development and progression of arteriosclerosis and diseases such as stroke and heart attack. This cardioprotective effect was more pronounced in people with a high cardiovascular risk, with abdominal obesity and high inflammation values (Sarapis et al, Eur J Nutr, 2021).
Extra virgin olive oil against Alzheimer's
The anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties of extra virgin olive oil also result in a neuroprotective action of this superfood. In fact, as recent scientific research has observed, the daily intake of 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil, just over three tablespoons, for a year in people with mild cognitive impairment led to a restoration of damaged DNA and an improvement in the indicators of Alzheimer's disease (Tzekaki et al, Exp Gerontol, 2021). It is believed that the neuroprotective action of extra virgin olive oil is due to its content in oleuropein, a substance of the secoiridioid family, which counteracts inflammation and also the accumulation of beta amyloid protein plaques, a hallmark of the disease of Alzheimer (Klimova et al, Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat., 2019).
Extra virgin olive oil and microbiota
Extra virgin olive oil has shown a prebiotic action at the level of the intestinal bacterial flora. This means that extra virgin olive oil is able to nourish and support the population of good microbiota bacteria. A healthy microbiota is mirrored in a stronger body and immune system, with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease, depression and cell degeneration. Not only that, the intake of extra virgin olive oil has been able to reduce the presence of those bacteria associated with inflammation, obesity and visceral fat (Millman et al, Nutr Rev, 2021).