Olive oil and arteriosclerosis
It has been demonstrated that olive oil has an effect in preventing the formation of blood clots and platelet aggregation. It has been observed that by avoiding excessive blood coagulation, olive-oil-rich diets can attenuate the effect of fatty foods in encouraging blood clot formation, thus contributing to the low incidence of heart failure in countries where olive oil is the principal fat consumed.
Olive oil and cholesterol
Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. At the same time it does not alter the levels of HDL-cholesterol (and may even raise them), which plays a protective role and prevents the formation of fatty patches, thus stimulating the elimination of the low-density lipoproteins.
The beneficial effect of olive oil consumption with regard to cardiovascular disease has been demonstrated in primary prevention, where it reduces the risk of developing the disease, and in secondary prevention, where it prevents recurrence after a first coronary event.
At present, research is revealing the effectiveness of the Mediterranean diet in the prevention of secondary coronary events and the positive influence of olive oil on the depression associated with such events and on mood. These findings are very important in view of the high incidence of depression in the modern-day world and the great risk it poses in recurrent heart disease.
Olive oil and cancer
Epidemiological studies suggest that olive oil exerts a protective effect against certain malignant tumours (breast, prostate, endometrium, digestive tract, …).
A number of research studies have documented that olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer.
It has also been reported that an olive-oil-rich diet is associated with reduced risk of bowel cancer.
Recent studies have demonstrated that olive oil provides protection against cancer of the colon.
Olive oil and blood pressure
It has been demonstrated, however, that the addition of olive oil to a diet that is not changed in any other way has a clear lowering effect on blood pressure, which seems to be specific to this oil. Regular consumption of olive oil decreases both systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure.
Olive oil and diabetes
An olive-oil-rich diet is not only a good alternative in the treatment of diabetes; it may also help to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. These benefits have been documented in child and adult diabetes.
Olive oil and obesity
Experience shows that there is less obesity amongst the Mediterranean peoples, who consume the most olive oil.
It has been demonstrated that an olive-oil-rich diet leads to greater and longer-lasting weight loss than a low-fat diet. It is accepted better because it tastes good and it is a stimulus to eat vegetables.
Olive oil and the immune system
It has been documented that olive oil intake bolsters the immune system against external attacks from microorganisms, bacteria or viruses.
Olive oil and rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory immune disease of unknown causes that affects the joints. Now, the results of a recently published study suggest that regular consumption of olive oil may reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Olive oil and the digestive system
As soon as we eat olive oil it has a number of effects all the way along the digestive system.
As far back as in ancient times it was recommended for assorted digestive disorders, and its beneficial properties are now being corroborated by epidemiological studies and a wealth of scientific data.
Olive oil during pregnancy
Olive oil plays a key role in foetal development during pregnancy and a shortage may have pernicious effects on the baby's subsequent development.
It has been demonstrated that the post-natal development of babies of mothers who consumed olive oil when pregnant is better in terms of height, weight, behavior and psychomotor reflexes.
Olive oil and osteoporosis
Olive oil appears to have a favourable effect on bone calcification, and bone mineralisation is better the more olive oil is consumed.
Olive oil and cognitive function
Olive-oil-rich diets may prevent memory loss in healthy elderly people.
The same study observed that the quantity of olive oil consumed was inversely proportional to age-related cognitive decline and memory loss, dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Olive oil and skin
It has also been suggested that because of its pronounced antioxidant effect, olive oil could play a choice part in the prevention of continuous oxidation, one of the processes that influences the development of certain types of skin cancer. Vitamin E studies have begun, but these kinds of observations take a long time, which means that conclusive data are not yet available. However, the theory is that oleic acid is believed to play a major part in counteracting continuous oxidation.