Health

Learn about the health benefits of olive oil consumption

According to data from the International Olive Oil Council and Juan Vilar Consulting, 95% of the olive oil produced in Portugal is virgin or extra virgin, demonstrating the unique quality of the national olive production. This quality is not only reflected in the sensory attributes of the product, but also in its nutritional properties.

The consumption of olive oil, particularly extra-virgin olive oil, as part of a Mediterranean diet – a diet characteristic of the territories bordering the Mediterranean Sea, where the olive tree is predominant – translates into numerous benefits for human health, as has been proven by scientific evidence.

Scientific interest in the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet on health dates back to the 1950s, when researchers first linked the traditional diet of southern regions of Greece and Italy to high average life expectancy and low rates of chronic disease in the respective populations. This premise would be further explored in the following years, and its results confirmed the aforementioned relationship.

Thus, in the 1990s the traditional diet observed in the Mediterranean Basin countries was chosen as the most health-friendly, and was officially recognized by the World Health Organization in 1994.

The Mediterranean diet is characterized by abundant consumption of fruits, fresh vegetables, cereals, and legumes, olive oil as the main source of fat, moderate consumption of animal products and dairy products, and moderate consumption of wine at mealtimes.

Aiming to reinforce the benefits of a Mediterranean diet, with olive oil as the main source of fat, for health, longevity and quality of life, the Alentejo Olive Oil Sustainability Program has gathered scientific evidence produced between 2013 and 2019 that confirms this association.

These studies show benefits in preventing cardiovascular, chronic, and oncological diseases, as well as in emotional well-being and maintaining good mental health. Get to know them!

Barros, V. (2014). Dieta Mediterrânica e Desenvolvimento Rural.

Decreases the risk of heart attack

The Study Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Dietcarried out in the scope of the research PREDIMEDin 2013 concluded that the consumption of olive oil, particularly virgin or extra-virgin olive oil, reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and the risk of death from heart attack, including in elderly populations, characterized as risk groups.

Source: Estruch, R., Ros, E., Salas-Salvadó, J., Covas, M. I., Corella, D., Arós, F., Gómez-Gracia, E., Ruiz-Gutiérrez, V., Fiol, M., Lapetra, J., Lamuela-Raventos, R. M., Serra-Majem, L., Pintó, X., Basora, J., Muñoz, M. A., Sorlí, J. V., Martínez, J. A., Martínez-González, M. A., & PREDIMED Study Investigators (2013).

Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes

According to the study Olive Oil in the Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies and Intervention Trials, a diet rich in olive oil by healthy individuals reduces the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. The study also states, that in individuals already suffering from the disease, a diet rich in olive oil allows a greater capacity for glycemic control.

Source: Schwingshackl, L., Lampousi, A. M., Portillo, M. P., Romaguera, D., Hoffmann, G., & Boeing, H. (2017).

Lowers bad cholesterol values

According to the study Extra Virgin Olive Oil use is associated with Improved Post-Prandial Blood Glucose and LDL Cholesterol in Healthy SubjectsIn a study conducted in July 2015 in a group of 25 healthy individuals, the consumption of olive oil, and the consequent decrease in the consumption of other saturated fats, contributes to a decrease in the values of bad cholesterol (LDL).

Source: Violi, F., Loffredo, L., Pignatelli, P., Angelico, F., Bartimoccia, S., Nocella, C., Cangemi, R., Petruccioli, A., Monticolo, R., Pastori, D., & Carnevale, R. (2015).

Lowers blood pressure

According to the study A Mediterranean Diet Lowers Blood Pressure and improves Endothelial Function: Results from the MedLey Randomized Intervention Trial, conducted by a group of researchers at the University of Western Australia in 2017, a group of men and women who changed their diet to a Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, for 6 months saw their systolic blood pressure reduced.

Source: Davis, C. R., Hodgson, J. M., Woodman, R., Bryan, J., Wilson, C., & Murphy, K. J. (2017).

May reduce the risk of depression

The Nutritional Aspects of Depression in Adolescents – A Systematic Review study, conducted in April 2019, shows that regular consumption of foods such as olive oil, fish, nuts, legumes, dairy products, fruits and vegetables is inversely associated with the risk of depression, and is also shown to improve some symptoms.

Source: Khanna, P., Chattu, V. K., & Aeri, B. T. (2019).

Prevents the onset of certain types of cancer

According to the Olive Oil Effects on Colorectal Cancer study conducted in December 2018, olive oil contains a variety of beneficial substances that may be useful for the prevention or the possible treatment of colorectal cancer. The evidence gathered as part of this study supports the chemotherapeutic potential of olive oil.

Source: Borzì AM, Biondi A, Basile F, Luca S, Vicari ESD, Vacante M. (2018).

Other Sources: Barros, V. (2014).
International Olive Council. (2022)
CONSULAI & Juan Vilar Consultor Estratégico. (2019).

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