OLIVE OIL: THE NATURAL CURE FOR CANCER, HEART DISEASE AND ATHRITIS
By Jenny Hope and Leslie Baumann, M.D.
Olive oil's health-giving benefits stem from its ability to help 'switch off ' genes that inflame conditions ranging from heart disease to arthritis, claim researchers.
Their discovery shows how the much-praised Mediterranean diet can suppress chronic disorders.
Spanish researchers identified almost 100 genes whose inflammatory activity is dampened by consumption of olive oil, in particular extra virgin olive oil.
Greeks are the biggest consumers of olive oil in the world - eating 20 times more than Britons - while Italians eat ten times as much.
Eating healthy mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil is known to lower the risk of heart disease.
In Britain, which has one of the highest heart attack rates in the world, much higher levels of animal or saturated fats are eaten.
In the study, 20 patients with metabolic syndrome, which puts them at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, were asked to eat breakfast foods covered in two types of olive oil.
One was extra virgin olive oil high in phenol compounds - natural antioxidants - while the other type of oil had low levels of phenols.
The volunteers had to avoid drugs, vitamins and other supplements for six weeks before the study started.
Dr Francisco Perez- Jimenez, from the University of Cordoba, said: 'We identified 98 differentially expressed genes when comparing the intake of phenol-rich olive oil with low-phenol olive oil.
'Several of the repressed genes are known to be involved in pro-inflammatory processes, suggesting the diet can switch the activity of immune system cells.'
Olive oil contains omega-6 fats, a form of 'healthy' polyunsaturates known to block the body's response to inflammation in chronic conditions such as heart disease and arthritis.
But the latest study, whose findings are published today in the science journal BMC Genomics, provides a gene-related explanation for some of the anti-inflammatory effect.
Dietitians say a Mediterranean diet also appears to improve vascular function - the flexibility of cells lining the walls of blood vessels, particularly in the heart and circulatory system.
Eating meat increases the risk of bladder cancer, according to research by scientists at the University of Texas.
Xifeng Wu, the 12-year study's lead author, said: 'People who eat a lot of red meat, particularly well-done red meat, seem to have a higher likelihood of bladder cancer.'
Olive oil is also one of the best, all-natural moisturizers. Now, researchers are learning about its anti-cancer properties, and their results are very exciting for skin health!
Ancient Greeks bathed with olive oil, and its skincare benefits have held up to the scrutiny of science. We now know that olive oil has at least four different types of antioxidants in it. Antioxidants neutralize damaging free radicals that can lead to skin aging and skin cancer. Well designed studies have shown that mice who drink extra virgin olive oil develop less skin cancer after exposure to UV light.
But, that's not all. The most exciting finding, in my opinion, is that applying topical olive oil to the mice skin after UV exposure also decreased the number of skin cancers. So whether ingested or applied directly to the skin, the oil is interfering with tumor development!
While skin cancer prevention is a relatively newly discovered benefit of olive oil, its moisturizing properties are renowned. Olives contain the compound linoleic acid, a component of skin that helps prevent water from evaporating. A linoleic acid deficiency causes skin to lose too much water, and those without it eventually develop dry skin.
Linoleic acid cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by topical creams and lotions, or from the diet. So, eating olive oil or olives, adding the oil to a warm bath or applying it directly to the skin can help the skin stay supple.
In my search, I have discovered some very special olive products. It is crucial to use extra virgin olive oil because it is made from the first press of the olives and has the highest amount of antioxidants.