Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fat and is one of our top rated anti-inflammatory foods. Personally I have always wondered the difference between 'seed oils'(sunflower, canola etc) and olive oil, as well as the difference between extra virgin, virgin, and non virgin olive oil. I hope this article clears the mystery for you, as creating it did for me.
For many years scientists have studied the effects of the Mediterranean diet.
The Mediterranean diet, of which extra virgin olive oil is a central component, has long been associated with numerous health benefits, including decreased risk of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, alzheimers and most importantly for us arthritis.
Extra virgin olive oil contains a substance called oleocanthal, which has anti-inflammatory agents, meaning olive oil is like a natural Ibuprofen without the side effects. It is the polyphenols in olive oil can protect the body from fat-ingestion damage especially to your cardiovascular system.
It's unusual to think about a culinary oil as being an anti inflammatory foods. Plant oils are nearly 100% fat, and in a general dietary sense, they are typically classified as "added fats." Intake of too much added dietary fat can be a problem for many reasons—including reasons involving unwanted inflammation.
The naturally occurring anti inflammatory foods benefits of extra virgin olive oil do not depend on large levels of intake. As little as 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day have been shown to be associated with significant anti inflammatory benefits and contain at least nine different categories of polyphenols.
In heart patients, extra virgin olive oil and its polyphenols have also been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) in a similar fashion to nopal juice. CRP is a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation.
Biologist Gary Beauchamp, PhD from the Monell Chemical Senses Center says "Some of the health-related effects of the Mediterranean diet may be due to the natural anti-COX activity of oleocanthal from premium olive oils."
Paul Breslin, PhD, who directed the research together with Beauchamp remarks, " Similar benefits are associated with certain NSAIDs, such as aspirin and Ibuprofen. Now that we know of oleocanthal's anti-inflammatory properties, it seems plausible that oleocanthal plays a causal role in the health benefits associated with diets where olive oil is the principal source of fat."
So next time you're in the supermarket treat yourself with a good quality extra-virgin olive oil. I'm sure you'll be glad you did.