The pleasures of the table are often or almost always in conflict with the rules of a good diet. You should not eat fatty foods, fried foods and desserts, while cabbages and Brussels sprouts are fine; in short, when food is tasty and sweet, it is almost always harmful. Of course, it would be better if cabbages were harmful and doctors prescribed as drugs French fries and creamy cakes. However, there is a fatty food that not only is absent from the blacklist, but it is also healthy and has been recognised as a drug: it is the extra virgin olive oil. The strict American Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is the agency for food and drug control, has confirmed its therapeutic qualities. This is good news, especially for our diets those use EVO oil a lot and also for our Italian producers. Dr. Elisabetta Bernardi will explain us why extra virgin olive oil has obtained this amazing recognition. Maybe we won’t find it soon in a medical prescription, but extra virgin olive oil is very healthy for prevention against a great number of disease so that the FDA has recently recognised its pharmacological properties.
Dr. Elisabetta Bernardi (Specialist in Food Science, Biologist and Nutritionist. Collaborator as author and presenter at Super Quark on Rai channels. Researcher at the School of Specialisation in Sports Medicine at the University of Rome “Sapienza”. Member of the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority), of the SIO (Italian Society of Obesity) and of the scientific committee of Assalzoo. She works as a nutritionist at the UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital): “Until today, it was already known and proved that following the Mediterranean Diet was the best way to live longer and prevent certain diseases such as cardiovascular or neurodegenerative diseases, but among all the elements that contribute to this food model there is one that all the countries on the Mediterranean Sea share and that is the use of extra virgin olive oil as the main source of fats.”
Past researches, now confirmed, attributed dietary benefits of extra virgin olive oil thanks to its high content in oleic acid with powerful anti-inflammatory action.
Dr. Antonio Moschetta (Specialist in Internal Medicine. Scientific Director at the IRCCS Oncology Institute “Giovanni Paolo II” in Bari. Associate professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Bari “Aldo Moro”. He was a researcher at the same University. Member of many scientific societies, during his career he has received several awards and honours. Moreover, he is the author of high-level international publications): “Oleic acid, which is a fatty acid contained in over 70% of Italian cultivars, plays an important role in our body from the anti-inflammatory point of view, especially for the intestine. Our group decided to study why mother nature gave us an enzyme called scd-1 that gives us the ability to create and synthesize oleic acid in our intestine. If this enzyme does not work, if we do not take oleic acid, there is a spontaneous inflammation and a increased susceptibility to tumours. All this to emphasize that the right amount of extra virgin olive oil combined with a health intestine are essential for the prevention of inflammation and, why not, of the tumour associated with an important inflammation of the intestine.”
Many experimental tests also accumulated on the health benefit of minor bioactive components of extra virgin olive oil, such as polyphenols found in high quantities in evo oil.
Dr. Francesco Visioli (He graduated in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of Milan, with a PhD in Biotechnology at the University of Brescia. He is currently Professor of Human Nutrition at the Molecular Medicine Department of the University of Padua. Until 2014 he was Chief Scientist at the Imdea, the Instituto Madrileño de Estudios Avanzados. From 1996 to 2010 he was a full professor of Pathophysiology at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris), where he headed the Micronutrients and cardiovascular disease unit): “Olive oil contains minor components that are called polyphenols typical of extra virgin olive oil and the olives from which the oil comes. We have been studying them for many years and among the main activities that are good for our health there are anti-inflammatory ones. We know that inflammation is at the root of almost all chronic degenerative disease. Polyphenols have very interesting activities on RNA lattices that produce protective proteins for the organism. Finally, I would say that polyphenols contained in EVO oil, modulate the redux system: it means that they keep the cells in a state not too oxidized and not too reduced and therefore all these actions cause that, who consumes extra virgin olive oil as preferential fat, suffers less from some pathologies such as atherosclerosis, tumours or neurodegenerative diseases.”
Many studies have shown the important role of minor components of EVO oil, such as phenolic compounds on inflammatory response. In this sense, the expression of different inflammatory genes is lower when an extra virgin olive oil high in polyphenols is consumed compared to other oils or olive oils low in polyphenols.
Dr. Elisabetta Bernardi: “In particular, there is a substance, hydroxyrosol, a polyphenol of extra virgin olive oil, which reduces the inflammatory process in combination with other substances that have an action similar to anti-inflammatory drugs.
The components of extra virgin olive oil can therefore vary the expression of the genetic heritage and positively modulate the expression of genes responsible for controlling certain degenerative diseases.
Dr. Antonio Moschetta: “The Varieties of extra virgin olive oil are absolutely important, because each of them is able to ignite the different genes in our body; our studies of nutrigenomics have shown that drinking extra virgin olive oil has the ability to ignite nearly 1000 of the 46,000 genes that we have studied in human cells. In our body, this involves the activations of anti-inflammatory, anticancer, diabetes prevention and insulin sensitivity genes. Of these 1000 genes the 70% is specific to each cultivar; so, each variety ignite its genes and, consequently, we need to respect more and more pedoclimatic conditions, different varieties, biodiversity and the micronutrients of the soil. But beware, let no one think that drinking oil is enough to be healthy, because, if the same oil and the same variety are taken by an obese or diabetic subject, the genes that ignite are lower than 50% and this is to emphasize that the health of the EVO oil which enters into our bodies must be parallel to the health of the organism that receives it.”
But, how much EVO oil should I consume to have the preventive effect? First of all, you need to choose an extra virgin olive oil high in oleic acid content and Italian extra virgin olive oil are excellent in this respect. You should also prefer those with a high content of polyphenols and this can be recognised thanks to fact that it pinches to the throat and has a slightly bitter taste. With regard to the quantities, it is sufficient to consume two tablespoons, in addition to the oil used for seasoning. In short, we all shall come back, including children, to our traditional snack: Bread, Evo Oil and Salt.