The Mediterranean Way Of Life – Part 4, The Role of Olive Oil

Previously, we discussed what the benefits of the Mediterranean diet are, and we saw a few examples of how it can help.

Today, as well as tomorrow, we will discuss how olive oil is tied in within the Mediterranean diet and the way of life.

Olive oil is a type of fat extracted from the olive tree which is a traditional tree from the Mediterranean basin.

It is produced by crushing whole olive fruits (by the way, olives are fruits, in case you didn’t know) before the oil is extracted by either chemical or mechanical procedures. Olive oil is used in the cosmetics industry, pharmaceuticals and even in the making of soaps besides cooking.

Olive oil exists in a variety of grades depending on processing. For instance, extra virgin olive oil is considered the premium type. It is produced from the first crushing of olive fruits and is extracted through cold- pressing whereby no chemicals are added. Virgin oil is the second variety, obtained from the second pressing of the fruits and is considered the second-best type. Refined olive oil is obtained from refined virgin olive and it has an acidity level of over 3.3%.

The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are wide, a reason why it has been named the Mediterranean miracle. One of its main benefits is that it protects the body against skin, colon and breast cancer. The oil contains phenolic antioxidants, terpenoid and squalene which are all anti- cancer compounds. The oil also has oleic acid, which prevents chronic inflammation besides reducing the damage that free radicals cause to body cells. As we grow older, olive oil with its antioxidants protects and rejuvenates the cells as well as it attacks free radicals – prolonging life. Of course, you need to have a balanced diet and exercise to help it. It is not just olive oil you have to consume.

Olive oil also reduces incidences of type2 diabetes. This is because the oil has monounsaturated fats like those found in seeds and nuts. These fats are essential in reducing risks of chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. A Spanish study that was published in scientific journal diabetes care indicated that any Mediterranean diet, which has olive oil is capable of reducing type II diabetes by over 50%.

The oil may be used to significantly reduce osteoporosis. This is a type of infection which causes reduction in the mass of bones, putting people at a risk of fractures. A test carried out on rats indicated that olive oil increases amounts of phosphorous, calcium and nitrates in the blood, which results in improved thickness of bones to reduce the occurrence of the disease.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next part of our Mediterranean Way of life- how olive oil plays an important role in your diet.

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