Do We Have Valid Scientific Research Proving Extra Virgin Olive Oil Is Beneficial To Our Health? Here’s What The Studies Say…

This is a reference page for you as well as I so I can remember the facts as proven through research about using extra virgin olive oil. But, although I am seeing the so called proof, I still have doubts because other health authorities, namely doctors do not believe olive oil or any other ‘refined oil’ is beneficial to our health. I wonder if the loyal opposition’s research is faulty or not?

So, until I am absolutely convinced without a doubt about the health benefits of using extra virgin olive oil, I shall remain ‘skeptical’ and limit my use of it or stop using it completely. I am still ‘thinking’ about it and weighing all the evidence for myself.

‘Beneficial effects of natural plant polyphenols on the human body have been evaluated in a number of scientific research projects. Bioactive polyphenols are natural compounds of various chemical structures. Their sources are mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, roots, bark, leaves of different plants, herbs, whole grain products, processed foods (dark chocolate), as well as tea, coffee, and red wine. Polyphenols are believed to reduce morbidity and/or slow down the development of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases as well as cancer. Biological activity of polyphenols is strongly related to their antioxidant properties. They tend to reduce the pool of reactive oxygen species as well as to neutralize potentially carcinogenic metabolites. A broad spectrum of health-promoting properties of plant polyphenols comprises antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-atherogenic, anti-thrombotic, and anti-mutagenic effects. Scientific studies present the ability of polyphenols to modulate the human immune system by affecting the proliferation of white blood cells, and also the production of cytokines or other factors that participate in the immunological defense. The aim of the review is to focus on polyphenols of olive oil in context of their biological activities [1 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29495598]’.

So, here’s another citation about olive oil protecting our bones.

‘Skeletal degeneration due to aging, also known as osteoporosis, is a major health problem worldwide. Certain dietary components confer protection to our skeletal system against osteoporosis. Consumption of olives, olive oil and olive polyphenols has been shown to improve bone health. This review aims to summarize the current evidence from cellular, animal and human studies on the skeletal protective effects of olives, olive oil and olive polyphenols. Animal studies showed that supplementation of olives, olive oil or olive polyphenols could improve skeletal health assessed via bone mineral density, bone biomechanical strength and bone turnover markers in ovariectomized rats, especially those with inflammation. The beneficial effects of olive oil and olive polyphenols could be attributed to their ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. However, variations in the bone protective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects between studies were noted. Cellular studies demonstrated that olive polyphenols enhanced proliferation of pre-osteoblasts, differentiation of osteoblasts and decreased the formation of osteoclast-like cells. However, the exact molecular pathways for its bone health promoting effects are yet to be clearly elucidated. Human studies revealed that daily consumption of olive oil could prevent the decline in bone mineral density and improve bone turnover markers. As a conclusion, olives, olive oil and its polyphenols are potential dietary interventions to prevent osteoporosis among the elderly [2 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27472350]’.

This citation is about cardiovascular disease in relation to the Mediterranean diet.

‘The Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower incidence of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. The apparent health benefits have been partially attributed to the dietary consumption of virgin olive oil by Mediterranean populations. Most recent interest has focused on the biologically active phenolic compounds naturally present in virgin olive oils. Studies (human, animal, in vivo and in vitro) have shown that olive oil phenolics have positive effects on certain physiological parameters, such as plasma lipoproteins, oxidative damage, inflammatory markers, platelet and cellular function, and antimicrobial activity. Presumably, regular dietary consumption of virgin olive oil containing phenolic compounds manifests in health benefits associated with a Mediterranean diet. This paper summarizes current knowledge on the physiological effects of olive oil phenolics. Moreover, a number of factors have the ability to affect phenolic concentrations in virgin olive oil, so it is of great importance to understand these factors in order to preserve the essential health promoting benefits of olive oil phenolic compounds [3 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19093267]’.

Another, below points out the cardiovascular protections of a Mediterranean diet.

‘The cardioprotective properties of Mediterranean Diet were demonstrated for the first time from the Seven Country Study. In the last few decades, numerous epidemiological studies, as well as intervention trial, confirmed this observation, pointing out the close relationship between the Mediterranean diet and cardiovascular diseases. In this context, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the most representative component of this diet, seems to be relevant in lowering the incidence of cardiovascular events, including myocardial infarction and stroke. From a chemical point of view, 98-99% of the total weight of EVOO is represented by fatty acids, especially monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid. Tocopherols, polyphenols and other minor constituents represent the remaining 1-2%. All these components may potentially contribute to “health maintenance” with their beneficial effects by EVOOO [4 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29141571].

An important (tasty) part of the Mediterranean diet is of course, olive oil!

‘Olive from Olea europaea is native to the Mediterranean region and, both the oil and the fruit are some of the main components of the Mediterranean diet. The main active constituents of olive oil include oleic acid, phenolic constituents, and squalene. The main phenolic compounds, hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, give extra-virgin olive oil its bitter, pungent taste. The present review focuses on recent works that have analyzed the relationship between the major phenolic compound oleuropein and its pharmacological activities including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, anti-cancer activities, antimicrobial activity, antiviral activity, hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic effect [5 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002804/]’.

Apparently, all fats are not healthy. We knew that. But, what of olive oil? See below.

‘The beneficial effects of a Mediterranean diet on human health and, in particular, on lowering risk of cardiovascular disease, has been mainly attributed to its high content to extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). While its main fatty acid, oleic acid, is considered important to these effects, EVOO has other biological properties that depend on, or are potentiated by other minor components of this oil. Initially, the mechanisms considered as possible causes of this cardioprotective effect of EVOO were based on the incidence on the so-called traditional risk factors (especially lipids and blood pressure). However, the high relative reduction in the prevalence of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality were not proportional to the limited findings about regulation of those traditional risk factors. In addition to several studies confirming the above effects, current research on beneficial effect of EVOO, and in particular in conjunction with Mediterranean style diets, is being focused on defining its effects on newer cardiovascular risk factors, such as inflammation, oxidative stress, coagulation, platelet aggregation, fibrinolysis, endothelial function or lipids or on the modulation of the conditions which predispose people to cardiovascular events, such as obesity, metabolic syndrome or type 2 diabetes mellitus. In the current review, we will mainly focus on reviewing the current evidence about the effects that EVOO exerts on alternative factors, including postprandial lipemia or coagulation, among others, discussing the underlying mechanism by which it exerts its effect, as well as providing a short review on future directions [6 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30487558]’.

The citation directly below makes me wonder if extra virgin olive oil is beneficial to our health. I know that eating a plant based diet is health promoting. I have recently started using olive oil as my own experiment. I will hate to give it up on my salad and frying potatoes!

‘In terms of their postprandial effect on endothelial function, the beneficial components of the Mediterranean and Lyon Diet Heart Study diets appear to be antioxidant-rich foods, including vegetables, fruits, and their derivatives such as vinegar, and omega-3-rich fish and canola oils [7 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11079642]’.

I’m ‘obviously’ not a research scientist, but I can read and look up words in a dictionary if I don’t know what they mean. I have read studies that even extra virgin olive oil hurts our endothelial layer of our arteries. This is the innermost lining where cardiovascular problems can actually begin: For example, arterial plaque ‘sticking’ to its walls.

But, there is such a big rave now about the Mediterranean diet, one might think olive oil is really health giving. But, there may be an underlying cause other than the olive oil.

The Mediterranean diet has lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and particular nuts like walnuts on the menu. But, if walnuts are considered healthy, maybe others would be, too. I know that people who eat small amounts of seeds and nuts in their diets do live longer.

‘Eat high nitrate veggies (that makes nitric oxide which I understand helps arteries open up fuller) like kale, spinach, arugula, swiss chard and other greens. They are supposed to aid to keep your arteries healthy and smooth inside. I eat at least one large green salad every day…’ ~ your author

Furthermore, whole intact fruits and vegetables may counteract the effects of fatty foods, even the olive oil itself. And, citation #7 above implies just that.

So, here again, I am left with doubt about the health benefits of olive oil, even extra virgin olive oil. But, what about avocados? What about eating olives? Probably best to keep these at a minimum to be safe.

Would there be any harm to adding a single teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil to your salad along with balsamic vinegar? This might be OK, because if your salad tastes good, you will eat more greens. Be sure to eat a big green salad every day.

But, it seems animals don’t do too well on oils. And, we are also animals of the human kind…

‘Recommendations to substitute monounsaturated fatty acids for polyunsaturated fatty acids or a low-fat carbohydrate diet seem premature without more research into the effects on the development of atherosclerosis. Current opinions favoring monounsaturated fatty acids are based on epidemiological data and risk factor analysis, but are questioned by the demonstrated detrimental effects on atherosclerosis in animal models [8 ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12544660]’.

Common sense dictates we keep our bad cholesterol levels low. It can promote atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries. This means not eating foods like most snack and junk foods, doughnuts, French fries, dairy like cheese, eggs and meat. We know also not to use lard to cook with or drink too much alcohol (over an ounce a day.)

‘Here they come walking down your street… Hey, hey, they’re the monkeys’!

‘In sum, the monkeys fed monounsaturated fat developed equivalent amounts of coronary artery atherosclerosis as those fed saturated fat, but monkeys fed polyunsaturated fat developed less [9 Rudel l, Parks J, sawyer J. Compared with dietary monounsaturated and saturated fat, 4 . polyunsaturated fat protects african green monkeys from coronary artery atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol.1995;15:2101–2110]’.

The prime fat in olive oil is monounsaturated fatty acids. And, these types of fatty acids are considered by many of our so called health authorities and experts as healthy fats.

Therefore, they claim that when you replace saturated and trans fats with unsaturated fats like monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats, you may receive health benefits.

In ending, I would be very cautious with anything drawn, derived or extracted from whole foods. For example, many vitamins are considered ‘poisonous’ to our bodies. In this author’s opinion, eating the ‘whole thing’ or plant based whole food is healthier than any food that’s processed and/or refined.

Furthermore, being there is such controversy pro and con about olive oil, I don’t particularly feel there is enough conclusive proof one way or the other that extra virgin olive oil is either beneficial to our health or not.

Source- 1 Terés, S, et al. “Oleic Acid Content Is Responsible for the Reduction in Blood Pressure Induced by Olive Oil.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 16 Sept. 2008, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2544536/.

2 Olives and Bone: A Green Osteoporosis Prevention Option. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27472350.

3 Chemistry and Health of Olive Oil Phenolics. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19093267.

4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cardiovascular Diseases … ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29141571.

5 Oleuropein in Olive and Its … – PubMed Central (PMC). ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3002804/.

6 Extra Virgin Olive Oil: More than a Healthy Fat. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30487558.

7 The Postprandial Effect of Components … – Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11079642.

8 URL ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12544660
Website Title Current opinion in lipidology
Publication Month February
Publication Year 2003
Access Day 19
Access Month april
Access Year 2020 Article Title Dietary monounsaturated versus polyunsaturated fatty acids: which is really better for protection from coronary heart disease?

9 Rudel l, Parks J, sawyer J. Compared with dietary monounsaturated and saturated fat, 4 . polyunsaturated fat protects african green monkeys from coronary artery atherosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol.1995;15:2101–2110.

Note- before you change your diet consult your doctor.

 

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