Updated: Aug 27
The more things change, the more they stay the same
French novelist and journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808 – 1890)
The more scientists learn about nutrition, the more it appears that we should eat like our ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Their diet was mostly "whole foods", which came direct from nature and were not processed in any way, unlike items on our supermarket shelves.
It’s only in the past 50 years or so that science has really looked hard at the effect of the food we eat on our bodies and health.
We are what we eat
is being proved true time after time.
Why extra virgin olive oil is one of the best whole foods
First of all, it’s 100% natural juice of the fruit of the olive tree. Nothing is added or taken away. No chemicals or heat are used in its extraction because it is simply pressed and squeezed out of the harvested olives.
That is not true of all products whose label says “olive oil” so always look only for Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
What makes EVOO, nuts, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes so good?
Processed foods and ingredients are stripped of most of the natural goodness they had when they came from nature.
Whole foods retain their fibre as well as a superb collection of highly beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals (natural compounds in plants). Processed foods just don’t have these any more.
It’s time we returned to whole foods with their rich flavours and natural health-giving goodness.
The bare bones of olive oil nutrient profile
Olive oil is made up mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids, most notable oleic acid. Oleic acid fights free radicals and is very good for heart health. Italian olive oil has a high percentage of oleic acid. 1 tablespoon (15 ml) contains:
Energy: 125 kcal
Monounsaturated fat: 8.42 g
Polyunsaturated fat (essential fat): 1.56 g
Omega 3: 0.144 g
Saturated fat: 2.5 g
Let’s look at the vitamins in olive oil
Vitamins can be divided into the fat soluble and water soluble varieties. Fat soluble vitamins, such as the ones found in olive oil, are generally not broken down by cooking. Our bodies store them in body fat and the liver for quite a long time so it is not essential to consume them with every meal.
What do these vitamins in olive oil do for us?
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) – is an antioxidant that is soluble in lipids (fats). Antioxidants help protect our body tissues and cell membranes from damage by free radicals. It also increases absorption of Vitamin K and is a factor in creating red blood cells as well as keeping cells dilated.
Vitamin A is also an antioxidant and is a factor in the formation of our skin, bones and teeth as well as maintaining them in good health.
Vitamin K is vital for helping blood to coagulate. It actually refers to a whole group of compounds and it’s a generic name for them.
Vitamin K helps Covid-19 victims
Olive oil is a great source of this vitamin, second only the green leafy vegetables like spinach and broccoli. Vitamin K is good for your bones and blood vessels and also probably for your lungs
Now, researchers in the Netherlands believe it greatly helps people suffering from Covid-19.
Covid-19 causes blood clots and degrades some elastic fibres in the patient’s lungs. Vitamin K assists in producing proteins that control blood clotting and help to protect against lung disease. You can read about the research here.
To sum up
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a very health source of vital fats that our bodies need for healthy living. It also contains some vitamins, which are not destroyed in cooking. As whole foods go, it is one of the most beneficial and that’s why it is a mainstay of the Mediterranean Diet that is so highly recommended by nutritionists.