Nancy's Nutrition Corner

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," Hippocrates.

Omnipotent Olive Oil

During the 1960s researchers began looking at different cultures to find links between diet and disease. In Greece, research revealed that a whopping 40 percent of the average male's caloric intake was from fat, however, most of the fat consumed was olive oil. E ven with this high fat intake, mortality rates from heart disease and stroke were among the lowest in the world. These findings led scientists to suspect that olive oil, while not the only healthy element in the Mediterranean diet, might be one of the most signi ficant.

Monounsaturated Fats
There is a great deal of clinical data showing that consumption of olive oil can lend many heart healthy benefits. These include beneficial effects on cholesterol, as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties. These effects are in large part due to olive oils unusually high concentration of monounsaturated fats. Monounsaturated fats reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Epidemiological studies reveal that an increased intake of monounsaturated fats in the diet is linked to a reduction in the risk for coronary artery disease.

Olive oil is also a good source of vitamin E, chlorophyl, carotenoids, and polyphenols - all potent antioxidants with free radical scavenging abilities which help protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation. Oxidation protection is key in the prevention of atherosclerosis as oxidized cholesterol adheres to arterial walls, beginning the formation of plaque.

Adding Olive Oil to Your Diet
It's best not to add fat to your diet, but rather, replace the butter and refined oils in your diet with extra virgin olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil when properly cold pressed is naturally high in polyphenolic compounds and antioxidants. These phenols and antioxidants can be damaged by light and heat. It is best to store olive oil in opaque containers, and to add it to meals using low or no heat.

And remember, you can order some from our catalog.

 Featured Product
Organic Olive Oil

Nancy Silva, ND is a licensed naturopath with a penchant for good food. Her monthly column discusses the nutritional aspects of some of the foods available through LocalHarvest. You can contact Nancy from her listing on our website.

Back to the June 2007 Newsletter