This is great news. There has been a new study just completed and the results were published in the September issue of the journal, “Phytotherapy Research”. Seeing that this is a rather dry and boring publication for anyone outside of industry professionals, I thought I’d put it in plain English for my readers. This study is showing that Olive Leaf extract lowers blood pressure AND cholesterol levels. This study was performed on adult twins diagnosed with borderline hypertension. I think it might be too dangerous to study people with really high blood pressure because the study requires getting off medication and this is risky.
The study had these volunteers take 500mg of Olive Leaf extract every day for 8 weeks. During this course of treatment, their systolic blood pressure (the higher or top number of the reading) fell by 5 points on average. Other study participants took up to 1000mg a day and their systolic reading fell by an average of 11 points. I guess this proves, the more the merrier.
Olive Oil Photo: The Love of Blush
There is a long history in natural medicine for the use of the Olive Leaf and it’s extracts. The ancient Greeks, who grew up around lots of Olive trees, have long used it for various ailments, including high fever, inflammations and infections. It has some of the qualities of White Willow and also Echinacea. But it is not known yet if Olive Leaf extract can be used in the same ways as these other herbs.
If you think about it, it has long been known that Olive oil is good for heart disease, ulcers, osteoporosis and some forms of cancer. It is also recommended for use by people with high cholesterol. Olive oil has been used for some time now as part of a cardio-protective nutritional diet. Olive oil is rich in phenolic compounds which are known for being antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. In some cases it is also good at preventing clotting which can really help heart patients. This is the reason, many people say, that the Mediterranean diet is really healthy and people who eat it have less heart disease.
According to Medical sources, Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which are considered to be far superior to the trans fats and saturated fats found in many junk foods, fried foods and animal products. Unlike other fats, olive oil can reduce levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. This fact has been established and well informed by Doctors and Nutritionists. In fact, Olive Oil is a recommended item in the heart healthy diet.
Olive Tree Photo: Alonissos
But in other medical studies it has been found that regular consumption of the oil may also protect against certain gastrointestinal diseases, including cancer. After analyzing cancer rates and dietary patterns in 28 countries, researchers found that diets rich in olive oil were associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.
Researchers in Spain have recently reported their findings in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. They found, in test trials, that olive oil may play a role in the prevention and treatment of gastritis and peptic ulcer disease. Both conditions are caused by infection with a bacterium known as Helicobacter pylori. As a sufferer of stomach disease, I can say I am thrilled by this finding. I have no problem using EVOO in everything, like Rachel Ray does.
The great news continues. In laboratory experiments, the phenolic compounds in olive oil demonstrated strong antibacterial effects against eight strains of the ulcer-causing bacteria, including those that were resistant to antibiotic drugs commonly used to eradicate them. Unlike other treatments, the active ingredients in the oil remained stable in human stomach acid. Wow. That’s great news for me and I hope for many of you out there who also suffer with stomach problems.
A naturally occurring chemical found in extra virgin olive oil has anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen. But without the side effects of Ibuprofen. Named “oleocanthal” by the researchers who discovered it, the compound inhibits the inflammatory activity of cyclo-oxygenase (COX) enzymes in the body. So I guess this means it has pain reducing capabilities as well. So, another argument for natural is gaining ground. Bravo.
Spanish Olives Photo: Foodsubs
Also, there is a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the theory that inflammation is a causative factor in many chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke and certain dementias. After my father had his second triple bypass we began to hear these findings breaking through and the idea that perhaps his heart trouble was caused by long standing inflammation or infection is possible. And to think that something as simple as Olive Oil could be a preventative? Some experts believe that many of the Mediterranean diet’s positive effects are attributable to the oleocanthal in olive oil.
While the health benefits of Olive Oil are being proven more and more, it is still difficult to figure out what grade of oil you should use. Olive oil is, as is every oil including vegetable oil, produced by pressing or crushing the vegetable or fruit to extract their oil. The amount of processing involved in the extraction determines the quality of the final product. Of course, the least is the best.
In medical circles, extra virgin olive oil is generally considered best, as it is obtained from the first pressing and is subjected to the least amount of processing. Because it’s closer to the natural state, it’s typically richer in flavor and in disease-fighting polyphenols. But because it’s less refined it also has a thicker consistency and a stronger taste, not always appreciated by the tongues of people who are used to white bread and hamburgers. It takes some getting used to but once the tongue is adapted, it is a delightful experience.
For those who can’t tolerate EVOO, the next best bet is “virgin” olive oil. Virgin olive oil is the product of the second pressing and because it undergoes more processing, including filtering and refining, is generally considered to be of lower quality than oil of the extra virgin variety. But it has a thinner consistency and is more subtle in flavor yet is still superior to refined olive oil. You should attempt to use either virgin or extra virgin rather than refined olive oil in order to get the benefits. Refined olive oil is barely better than Crisco in terms of value for your body.