Olive Oil, The Old And New Elixir Of Life!

Olive Oil, The Old And New Elixir Of Life!

By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on April 17, 2013

Olive Oil

Olive oil is the soul of the heart healthy Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is derived from compressing the oil out of olives. Olives are the traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean basin. Olive oil has been used in many ways, including:

  • Cooking
  • Cosmetics
  • Pharmaceutical agents
  • Soap
  • Fuel

The different names for olive oil indicate the degree of processing the oil has undergone, as well as the quality of the oil.

Extra-virgin olive oil

Extra-virgin olive oil is the highest grade available and is rated as having excellent flavor and odor. It has a free fatty acid content of not more than 0.8g per 100g (0.8%).

Virgin olive oil

Virgin olive oil has reasonably good flavor and odor and less than free fatty acid content of not more than 2g per 100g (2%). The word "virgin" indicates that the olives have been pressed to extract the oil and that no chemicals or heat were used during the extraction process, and thus the oil is pure and unrefined. The less ripe olives produce an oil that is more bitter, spicy and pungent, while a more ripe olive produces a sweeter oil.

What the latest studies say about Olive oil

A small study from the German Research for Food Chemistry suggested that by merely sniffing olive oil the scent promotes satiety and therefore less caloric consumption and hence weight loss. Olive oil has anti-oxidants and is a monounsaturated fat that improves cholesterol ratios.

A recent large, landmark study following more than 7,000 men and women showed that among folks ages 55-80 that are at high risk for heart disease, the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil or nuts reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events and was effective in primary prevention of heart disease. This is big news - really big news. So, while physicians have recommended avoiding excessive animal fat, it turns out that the animal protein nutrient product of L-carnitine, which is metabolized by the intestinal flora, increases heart disease risk.

The health benefits of Olive oil

Women have used olive oil as a skin moisturizer for centuries. Turns out you can use olive oil as a vaginal moisturizer and/or lubricant, and it doesn’t have to be the ‘extra virgin’ type!

Keep your heart ticker in good shape by following a Mediterranean diet supplemented with some extra-virgin olive oil and/or nuts such as walnuts and almonds. In addition to a good diet, it’s important to live a healthy lifestyle:

-Be Strong, Be Healthy, and Be in Charge

Holly L. Thacker, M.D.

Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Her special interests are menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health. Dr. Thacker is the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause.

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