Updated: Aug 27
In a previous article, we touched on the nutrition profile of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Here we take a closer look at some of the important nutrients it contains, and why they make it so good for our health and wellbeing.
It’s 100% natural – nothing added or taken away
True EVOO is simply the juice of first pressing of the fruit of the olive tree. It is extracted using only pressure in the cold pressing process using no heat or chemicals. It contains no more than 0.8% acid and has a fresh and fruity flavour.
Antioxidants – EVOO is packed with them but what do they do?
Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage the cells in our bodies. They have been associated with neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as well as respiratory ailments and cancers. Sources included pollution, smoking, pesticides and many others.
Put simply, oxygen molecules that split into single atoms with unpaired electrons are compelled to bind with another atom so as to satisfy the imbalance caused by the missing electron. When this becomes persistent with many atoms involved, it is called oxidative stress. It can trigger diseases and causes skin damage and therefore ageing.
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from this kind of damage by neutralising free radicals. You can read more about free radicals and their implication in various diseases.
Not all nut and seed oils contain natural antioxidants. EVOO has a significant high content in the form of flavonoid polyphenols. It can be as much as 5mg in every 10g of EVOO. Early harvest EVOO has an especially high level of these important and highly beneficial compounds.
Inflammation – what it is and how EVOO helps to reduce it
We see inflammation in our joints after physical injury or in diseases such as arthritis. Its visible symptoms are often redness and swollen joints that are warm to touch and can be painful. We see it in a sore throat caused by flu or illness and there are many other examples.
Inflammation can also occur in internal organs but we do not sense pain in them directly because they do not have nerve endings, such as in lung inflammation. We may, however, experience abdominal or chest pain in other cases.
Some foods can aggravate inflammation and should be avoided. They include trans and saturated fats, such as can be found in fried food and supermarket confectionery. Also refined carbohydrates as in white bread and pastries are irritants, as are sugary drinks and red meat.
Some foods are good to help reduce inflammation and extra virgin olive oil is one of the leading natural sources of treatment. The high content of flavonoid polyphenols in EVOO makes it one of the best foods to naturally counter inflammation. Flavonoids and related polyphenolic compounds provide significant anti-inflammatory activity amongst other helpful properties.
Even better, another compound in EVOO oil called oleocanthal works in the same way as ibuprofen does by preventing production of enzymes that can make inflammation worse.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of nature’s wonder foods
Scientists and researchers are gradually exploring and formally proving the many benefits of EVOO. These have been known for thousands of years but scientific proof is an excellent means of distinguishing the facts from myth and folklore. In the case of EVOO, much of its reputation is now being proven in the laboratory too.