Monthly Archives: February 2011

Olive Oil: The New Tool to Battle Mental Illness and Depression

A new study that has been conducted at the University of Navarra and the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has determined that a diet that is rich in olive oil can go a long way in helping to prevent mental illness. There were a little over 12,000 people who took part in the study. The people were part of a group called the SUN project, which is made up of Spanish university graduates and alumni who partake in various medical and clinical trials.

The trial lasted over 6 years and when it was over, 675 of the patients were found to be suffering from some kind of depression or mental disorder. Still this study with olive oil goes to prove points that have already been made by diets such as the Mediterranean Diet which is also noted for its medical benefits and fight against depression.
Spanish researchers about two years ago found out the Mediterranean Diet and ones that use olive oil, vegetables, beans, and fruits could decrease a person’s symptoms of depression by a whopping 30 percent.

Another correlation that some of these researchers have been able to make is that with olive oil and its helping with hypertension, there could be a direct connection between heart health and depression. Researchers were able to find out that people who suffer from heart disease and those who suffer from mental illness seem to have the same outlook at food and diet. An olive oil rich diet could help these people get back on track and live a stress free and healthy life.

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Olive oil study shows some consumers like it rancid

The University of California at Davis presented the results of a study to compare consumer preferences of olive oil and unearthed some interesting findings:

Most Northern California consumers dislike bitter and pungent olive oils — qualities favored by expert olive oil tasters — and many actually prefer olive oil that displays defective attributes such as rancidity, according to a new study from the Olive Center at the University of California, Davis.

Findings from the study, conducted by UC Davis sensory scientists Claudia Delgado and Jean-Xavier Guinard, will appear in the March issue of the journal Food Quality and Preference. The paper is available online at the journal’s website at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6T6T-51CJ38F-2/2/ba59382662ed372efb8cdcd86ed28833.

“This is the first study to compare consumer preferences of olive oil with expert ratings of the oil quality,” said Delgado, a UC Davis postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Plant Sciences.

Guinard, a professor in UC Davis’ Department of Food Science and Technology, said: “Olfactory preferences are learned, based on exposure. So we suspect that the consumers who liked the defective oils’ qualities were accustomed to those flavors because many of the imported oils they consume are rancid to begin with.”

A recent UC Davis Olive Center study showed that 69 percent of the oils marketed as “extra-virgin” in the United States actually did not meet the sensory or chemical criteria for extra-virgin olive oil. (The UC Davis Chemistry Analysis report of imported extra-virgin olive oils is available at the Olive Center website at: http://olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/news-events/news-events.)

About the new study

The new study captured the preferences of 110 Northern California olive oil consumers and the reasons for those preferences. The study participants were asked to taste and rate 22 commercial olive oils that were labeled as extra virgin. Half of the oils in the study were imported, and half were from California.

The study found that 74 percent of the consumers did not like what the expert tasters identified as high-quality oil — those that were bitter, pungent and free of defects. Bitterness and pungency are two of the positive sensory attributes of high-quality olive oil, as identified by International Olive Council standards.

The researchers note that, in the case of other food products such as specialty beers and coffees, bitterness is an attribute that consumers initially dislike but learn to accept. They suggest that consumers might find bitterness and pungency more acceptable when using olive oil with food and in cooking and by knowing that healthy antioxidants in the oil are the cause of bitterness and pungency.

Consumers participating in the study did like those olive oils that had the third desirable attribute of extra virgin olive oil, which is fruitiness. In order for an olive oil to be considered extra virgin, it must have some fruitiness and zero defects such as rancidity.

Surprisingly, 44 percent of the consumers liked the olive oils that had rancid flavors, even though this is an undesirable quality that would disqualify an olive oil from being considered extra virgin.

The study also found that 74 percent of the study participants said they use olive oil for its health benefits; other reasons included for use in a recipe, bread-dipping in restaurants, family tradition and flavor.

And, the study identified three distinct demographic clusters among the consumers, distinguished by olive oil flavor preferences and buying habits.

The authors note that most of the defective oils in the study were European imports and suggest that this bodes well for the California olive oil industry. They predict that as consumers learn about the many nutritional benefits and sensory qualities of extra-virgin olive oil, the California industry will be poised for exponential growth.

Support for this study came through Guinard’s laboratory from a variety of sources. None of the funders is associated with the California or international olive oil industries.

More Health Benefits of Olive Oil

This story comes from John Phillip of Natural News:

Systemic inflammation is a significant factor known to accelerate the aging process and is an underlying mechanism behind most chronic illnesses including cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Low grade inflammation increases body temperature and initiates degradation of the delicate endothelial lining of the vascular system. This process is known to cause metabolic instability and is linked with the proliferation of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and dementia. Polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil have been shown to significantly reduce the expression of genes that trigger systemic inflammation and can be used along with natural diet to lower the risks from cardiovascular disease.

Olive Oil and Greens Lower Risk of Heart Disease by More Than 40%
The protective nature of a diet high in raw leafy greens and olive oil cannot be understated. Leafy greens and raw green vegetables are packed with folate, which is known to lower levels of circulating homocysteine that increases risk of coronary artery disease and heart attack. Olive oil contains powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals before they can deteriorate normal metabolic function.

The outcome of an Italian study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrates how a natural diet of greens and vegetables and olive oil can slash the risk from cardiovascular disease by nearly half. Researchers collected dietary data from 30,000 middle-aged women and compared the cardiac event occurrence during an 8 year period.

They found that women with the highest daily consumption (one serving or about 2 ounces) of raw vegetables such as spinach or endive had a 46% lower risk of developing heart disease compared with women eating less than 2 servings per week. The authors also found that consuming at least an ounce of extra virgin olive oil each day lowered the risk of a cardiac event by 44% compared to those who consumed a half-ounce or less. The authors concluded that there is “an inverse association between increasing consumption of leafy vegetables and olive oil and CHD risk.”

Olive Oil Tames Inflammation by Influencing Genes
Extra virgin olive oil is packed with antioxidant compounds and squalene that directly regulate genes that trigger inflammation in the body. The result of a study published in the journal BMC Genomics demonstrated the effect of olive oil on white blood cells that mount an inflammatory response when potential invaders are detected.

The oil was found to reverse the deleterious effect of inflammation caused by stress, obesity, high blood pressure and blood glucose. Extra virgin olive oil turns off multiple inflammatory genes that are activated as a consequence of metabolic syndrome, effectively providing a protective shield against cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses driven by persistent inflammation.

Systemic inflammation represents a serious health concern to an aging population and those at increased risk for cardiovascular disease. A solid body of science confirms the health promoting effects bestowed by a raw diet of leafy green vegetables and powerful antioxidants found in extra virgin olive oil. Be certain to include these tasty food choices in your daily menu to ensure vibrant health and longevity.