The antitumor properties of extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is now considered a fundamental element of the Mediterranean diet.
Numerous scientific and clinical studies have shown that extra virgin olive oil is an important agent for preventing and treating various diseases. In particular, a study dating back to the eighties showed a lesser spread of tumors among the populations living in the Mediterranean basin.
The protective activity of the oil depends mainly on three groups of compounds:
– oleic acid which constitutes 72% of the whole liquid;
– polyphenols which are a group of substances having antioxidant action;
– the squalene which is a precursor of cholesterol.
But how do these substances work in some forms of cancer that are particularly common in the population? The oxidation of proteins, DNA and lipids by free radicals is one of the key phenomena that can lead to the transformation of a healthy cell into a tumor cell. Like all the cells of our body, even the sick ones multiply, however, unlike healthy ones, multiplication occurs in an uncontrolled and disordered way, favoring diffusion in different tissues from the original one. For the above oxidation mechanism it is believed that the consumption of foods or supplements rich in antioxidants such as extra virgin olive oil has a protective role against the onset of neoplasia. The protection offered by extra virgin olive oil would depend mainly on the phenols which, by their antioxidant action, would neutralize the free radicals present in the feces that are toxic and harmful to the intestinal mucosa. The oleic acid, instead, would act upstream, that is, before being ingested and limited to the possible cooking of food. In fact, thanks to its stability at high temperatures, foods fried in olive oil have a lower content of harmful degradation products, not only for the intestine but also for other organs.
Olive oil to treat cholesterol and hypertension
The Olive tree is a plant whose leaf is used; its effectiveness is expressed in the treatment of arterial hypertension, in cardiovascular diseases in general and in non-insulin-dependent diabetes.
Cardiovascular diseases are today the most frequent cause of mortality and morbidity in Italy and in Europe, as well as a major cause of disability. Arteriosclerosis, a chronic and degenerative systemic and multifactorial pathology, is one of the main causes of these diseases. More and more often it is emphasized not only the need to reduce the amount of fat taken in the diet, but above all to carefully evaluate which ones to take.
Olive oil, for centuries characterizing the Mediterranean diet, proves to be the ideal source of fats, in addition to having anti-hypertensive and hypocholesterolizing properties.
The hypotensive action of the olive leaves has long been attributed to a single substance, oleuropeoside, which shows vasodilatory, antiarrhythmic and spasmolytic properties. However, a further substance has recently been brought to light, oleacine, which could alone justify the hypotensive action of this plant.
Beyond which substances determine the effectiveness of the olive it is important to remember that its use helps to treat disorders associated with hypertension such as headache, vertigo and buzz. Another interesting property is its hypoglycaemic action, in fact it is used as a coaudent treatment of type II diabetes, that is not insulin dependent.
The olive leaf also acts on the cholesterol front contributing to lower LDL and to increase HDL cholesterol, the good one, thanks above all to its polyphenol content.
In our country, as in most Western countries, our diet is too rich in saturated fats (animal fats) and rapidly absorbed sugars (glucose, fructose, etc.) that aggravate or determine cardiovascular disease. A constant supply of olive oil makes it possible to rebalance the blood lipid balance and to protect the arteries, without disregarding a healthy and balanced diet.