Νutritional Value & Health

Olives and olive oilOlive oil nutritional health value is known from the time of Hippocrates, and is constantly confirmed by scientific medical research progress.

 The biological value of olive oil and why we should prefer olive oil rather than fat will be analyzed in this part.

Original olive oil isn’t pure fat, but rather juice which is full of oil aroma and flavor.

By contrast, all oils, with the exception of sesame, oil in order to become edible undergo a process known by the term gentrification, including special treatment to get a marketable form. The result is that the oil has no smell and most of all no taste.

The experience of many centuries, the clinical observations which were made over time, demonstrated that people who are fed with olive oil (like Greeks), show lower rate of cardiovascular diseases and other pathological situations compared to countries whose nutrition is based on polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Olive oil, which has the harmonious composition of glycerides, the same found in the components of breast milk, is enriched with natural antioxidants, which are the basic protection against peroxidation and creation of free radicals. Free radicals, according to recent research data are equally if not more, dangerous for the normal functioning of the human body than are saturated fatty acids which are proven to increase cholesterol levels.

While polyunsaturated fatty seed oil reduces the level of cholesterol in the blood and at least in theory protects against cardiovascular disease, free radicals of peroxides, are the cause for many serious abnormalities for the human body. It is proven that these free radicals are the cause of many unpleasant situations in artery walls. Moreover, free radicals are responsible for brain syndrome (such as softening of the brain) and the blocking of enzymes which are vital for the human body. Free radicals have an increasing negative impact as time passes leading to the wrinkling of our skin.

Moreover, according to other research data free radicals are responsible for the reduction of elasticity and the degree of hydration of proteins in the human body. As a result the arteries, veins and blood vessels become narrower, thus preventing blood supply towards cells and body tissue. Consequently, with the lapse of time malfunction of organs and systems develops, , presbyopia increases, and the generation of new cells for healing wounds, becomes limited and is followed by the general decline and decay of the person.
 

Generally the oil as basic staple food outperforms other fatty substances in the following cases:

• Superior chemical composition
• Supports the absorption of the pituitary of the small intestine and digestibility.
• Reduces blood cholesterol according to the latest researches.
• Maintains and treats liver diseases.
From ancient times it was known that the oil maintains or treats gastrointestinal ulcers, as well as liver disease, biliary disease, etc.
• Protects against osteoporosis.
Recent researches showed that the olive oil is rich in Vitamin E protecting against osteoporosis for both sexes.
• Superb aroma and flavor.

The "smaller" components of olive oil also play a role in the process of metabolism, mainly the squalene and tocopherols 90% consisting of vitamin E, the most active component against autooxidation. They protect the oil from rancidity, aliphatic alcohol and, the terpenic constituents, etc.

Olive oil also contains a small concentration of phosphor-lipids. Among the components of olive oil we should mention elaiopikrini, the essence of the olive tree, which is assigned to pharmacological properties, such as hypotension.

Olive oil seems to have great nutritional value whether uncooked, cooked or even fried - provided however the conditions of heating are not very active and long-term- because it has high resistance to auto-oxidation, a feature which it holds even in the active conditions of frying . Also, the high content of oleic acid slows down some reactions. This property, the stability it maintains towards oxidation, is important in nutritional terms.

Heated under controlled conditions it does not show any substantial change in its structure and causes no significant toxic reaction, while even when heated at 200 ° C, it retains its properties.

The olive oil affects blood lipids too. Epidemiological studies in Greece show that, where there is high consumption of olive oil, the incidence of coronary heart disease is remarkably low. Study for twenty consecutive years in Crete and Corfu, on the epidemiology of heart disease, showed that these diseases in those areas were minimal. Because good health is related to lifestyle and a part is quite a serious diet, in both regions staple diet of fatty material, is olive oil.

Generally, the traditional Greek diet without being low in total fats contains few fatty acids, which contribute to increased blood cholesterol. A diet rich in olive oil and low in animal fat, contributes to the limited occurrence of coronary heart disease.

* Alexander S. Alexandrakis, 2008, Olive oil and its production

Special thanks to the painter Constantinos Rammos for the disposal of his paintings! www.constantinosrammos.eu