Mediterranean diet
Health Benefits of Olive Oil and the Mediterranen Diet.

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Health Benefits of Olive Oil and the Mediterranen Diet

Health Benefits of Olive Oil
The health and therapeutic benefits of olive oil were first mentioned by Hippocrates, the father of medicine. For centuries, the nutritional, cosmetic and medicinal benefits of olive oil have been recognized by the people of the Mediterranean.
Olive oil was used to maintain skin and muscle suppleness, heal abrasions, and soothe the burning and drying effects of sun and water. Olive oil was administered both internally, and externally - for health and beauty.
Recent research has now provided firm proof that a Mediterranean diet, which includes olive oil, is not only generally healthy, but that consuming olive oil can actually help lower harmful LDL cholesterol. Olive oil contains antioxidants that discourage artery clogging and chronic diseases, including cancer.
There are three kinds of dietary fats: saturated (animal), polyunsaturated (plants, seeds, nuts, vegetable oils), and monounsaturated (olive oil). From a nutritional standpoint, all types of olive oil are approximately the same, with 80% monounsaturated, 14% saturated, 9% polyunsaturated fats on average.
Olive oil is rich in vitamins A, B-1, B-2, C, D, E and K and in iron. Olive oil, which is beneficial to the digestive system, does not necessarily keep you thin; it contains just as many calories as other oils (9cal/g).
Olive oil acts as a mild laxative, is a friend to the intestine and an enemy of ulcers and gastritis. Olive oil is a good tonic, with specific benefits for people suffering from heart disease.
Olive oil has been regarded as the "beauty oil". The body's cells incorporate the valuable fatty acids from the oil, making arteries more supple and skin more lustrous. The amount of oleic acid in olive oil is about the same as that found in a mother's milk and is thus the best growth supplement for infants.
Drunk before a meal, olive oil protects the stomach from ulcers. If a spoon or two is taken with lemon or coffee, it prevents constipation without irritating the intestinal tract. It is also effective in treating urinary tract infections and gall bladder problems. It is a perfect remedy for gastritis in children, it accelerates brain development and strengthens the bones. Olive oil dissolves clots in capillaries, has been found to lower the degree of absorption of edible fats, and consequently slows down the aging process.
Only animal-derived foods contain cholesterol. Olive oil is cholesterol-free. Cholesterol is not entirely harmful; it is an essential building block for cell membranes, nerve fiber coverings, vitamin D and sex hormones. The body manufactures all the cholesterol it needs, so any cholesterol in foods we eat is excessive. Excess cholesterol causes a gradual accumulation of fatty deposits and connective tissue, known as plaque, along the walls of blood vessels. Eventually, plaque builds up, narrows the arteries and reduces blood flow, in this way increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Cholesterol is manufactured in the liver and is vital for the structure of cell walls. In order to circulate through the bloodstream, it is "packaged" in fatty-protein wrappings called "lipoproteins". The low-density lipoproteins (LDL) distribute cholesterol throughout the body, dropping it off where needed. The liver also packages another type of cholesterol called high-density lipoproteins (HDL), which picks-up circulating cholesterol and returns it to the liver for reprocessing, or excretion. The LDLs are the ones that build up the walls of the arteries and so are tagged "bad" cholesterol. HDLs carry cholesterol away. So the more HDLs there are, the easier it is to unblock paths and rid the body of unwanted cholesterol. What the body really needs is a good HDL/LDL ratio. Polyunsaturated oils lower LDL ("bad") and HDL ("good") levels. Monounsaturated oils (such as olive oil), lower only LDL cholesterol, leaving HDLs to help clean out arteries.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Animal fats, which contain saturated fatty acids, exponentially increase blood cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fatty acids lower both LDL and HDL levels in the blood, but they do not affect their ratio. Monounsaturated fatty acids on the other hand control LDL levels while raising HDL levels. No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated fatty acids as olive oil, which mainly contains oleic acid. The modest amount of well-balanced polyunsaturated fatty acids in olive oil is well protected by antioxidant substances. It is widely believed that antioxidant substances such as vitamins E, K and polyphenols found in olive oil provide a defense mechanism that delays aging and prevents carcinogenesis, therosclerosis, liver disorders and inflammations.
Since olive oil is not tortured during extraction, these substances are left unspoiled, making the olive oil very stable even when frying. So contrary to common belief, olive oil undergoes a smaller degree of deterioration during frying than other oils.
Due to its chemical structure, olive oil is of unrivaled organoleptic value and thus the oil best suited for human consumption. It is very well tolerated by the stomach. In fact, its protective function has a beneficial effect on gastritis and ulcers. It is a cholagogue, activating the secretion of pancreatic hormones and bile much more naturally than prescribed drugs. Consequently, it lowers the incidence of cholelithiasis (gallstone formation). Its excellent digestibility promotes the overall absorption of nutrients, especially vitamins and mineral salts. It has a positive effect on constipation. Bones need a large amount of oleates and what source could be better than olive oil? Promoting bone mineralisation, it is excellent for infants and the elderly who have bone calcification problems. It also has beneficial effects on brain and nervous system development as well as on overall growth. It shields the body against infection and helps in the healing of tissues, internal and external. Olive oil is a panacea, the perfect oil for all ages. And every time scientists look into the reasons behind an olive oil advantage empirically known and employed by the peoples of the Mediterranean, it is certain that they will come across evidence of yet another unique biological attribute.



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