Ancient Greek Homer was referring to olive oil as “the Golden Liquid”
and Hippocrates, the great grandfather of medicine as “the Great Healer”.
Olive oil is characterized by the oil obtained from the fruit of the
European olive (Olea Europea) entirely by mechanical means and methods or
processes absolutely physical, at temperatures that will not cause
deterioration of the oil’s properties. Olive Oil is considered the leading
ingredient of the Mediterranean diet as an extra “plus” in prevention and
treatment of various diseases but also assisting in longevity of the
population that consume it. The main core of this diet is the olive oil. The
Mediterranean diet proposes that, on daily consumption, after the fruits and
vegetables, come the Olive-Oil. Olive
oil is the main added lipid in the Mediterranean diet, providing 9
kilocalories per gram. (1 tablespoon of 15 ml, gives 135 kcal).
The recommended daily intake of monounsaturated fatty acids should
constitute 15-20% of our total daily energy intake. This of course, must be
part of the total daily intake of fat and should not exceed 30-40% of total
The antioxidants contained in olive oil are:
1. Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
2. Carotenoids (eg beta-carotene), which is found in greater proportion in
3. The phenols which dependent on climatic conditions, the production,
storage and maturity of the olives and separation into simple (e.g.
hydroxytyrosol), which inhibit the platelet aggregation, thereby having an
anti-inflammatory action, in complex phenols (e.g. olefropeini) that assist
in the formation of nitric acid which is a powerful vasodilator thus has
antibacterial activity, as ferulic and caffeic acid.
The antioxidants have anticancer activity by preventing the formation of
free radicals and hence oxidative stress. This effect is more significant in
cases of cancer of the colon and rectum, breast, prostate, endometrium and
any type of cancer of the gastrointestinal tract. The type of fat consumed
is more important than the quantity in the incidence of cancer.
Laboratory tests on cancer cells showed that these phytochemical
polyphenols can effectively restrict the activation of gene HER2, which is
directly involved in the development of cancer cells in the case of breast
tumors, by leading to the destruction of these cancer cells. Scientists have
also supported that the polyphenols in extra-virgin olive oil can be used as
a safe basis for the design of new anticancer drugs.
Squalene, as being the main component of the Olive-Oil has been shown to
reduce the incidence of melanoma in the skin. The oil is cholagogue /
cholokystokinitiko, which means that, has increased removal capability of
bile from the gallbladder, thereby preventing ololithiasis. It also has a
very positive effect on food digestion and absorption of nutrients (e.g.,
magnesium) from these. During the natural process of aging and in conditions
such as memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, the organism’s requirements in
monounsaturated fatty acids are raised, because they help maintaining the
structure of brain’s cell wall. The Olive Oil has also light laxative
effects, thereby helping in the treatment of constipation.
Most scientific studies carried out on the effects of olive oil on health,
have shown a very positive effect on blood lipids and on the cardiovascular
system in general. The olive oil seems to help prevent thrombus formation
and platelet aggregation, leading to a lower incidence of cardiovascular
diseases. It also reduces total cholesterol in blood and the “bad”
cholesterol (LDL), triglycerides and atherogenic action that are the
narrowing and hardening of the arteries. The olive oil also increases the
“good” cholesterol (HDL), which has a protective effect. Overall, the olive
oil affects both primary and secondary prevention (i.e. preventing the
occurrence of a second heart attack in the same patient). Due to its high
content of polyphenols can result in reducing high blood
The diets rich in monounsaturated fat, are also leading to a significant
reduction of triglycerides in the blood while fasting, and also the
cholesterol concentrations of very low density (VLDL). At the same time, the
rich in monounsaturated diets resulted in a more conducive control of
glycemic. A recent study published in the journal “Food Chemistry (2004)”
held by a group of researchers showed that a substance present in olive oil
(oleuropein) appears to increase the mobility of an enzyme (pepsin)
responsible for the digestion of protein.
What does this practical mean? That means that the protein in the slice of
“Feta cheese” in our traditional salad is metabolized well with the presence
of olive oil and that the addition of olive oil in tuna salad, chicken and
other protein sources is a favorable additive. Scientists claim that
substances found in the residue of the olive oil friction limit the spread
of AIDS in the human body by 80%. Note, that these components are contained
in a very small percentage in the friction of the olive oil. For someone
to benefit from these attributes, should consume pure formulations produced
in the laboratory.
In conclusion, it should be noted that the health benefits are achieved only
by consuming olive oil. The extra-virgin olive oil is obtained by processing
olives without using heat or chemicals, and thus contain phytochemicals that
otherwise would have been lost during the processing phase.