The Mediterranean diet is shared by all the European, African and Asian populations living next to the Mediterranean Sea. Because of its great variety of foods, it is a complete diet, particularly balanced and healthy.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by:
- High consumption of fruit and vegetables;
- The use of extra-virgin olive oil as its only fat;
- The frequent use of legumes or pulses and cereals;
- Reduced consumption of meats and meat products;
- Low consumption of sugar and saturated fats.
If we try to explain the meaning of the Mediterranean diet in one short sentence we could say: ”Eat a bit of everything, never eat too much of anything”.
Within the Mediterranean diet, High Standard Extra-virgin Olive Oil (EVO HS) has played a central role since ancient times because it is used in every dish. It is the staple ingredient which boasts healthy properties equal only to those of fruit and vegetables.
EVO Oil is like a natural fruit juice, which, to be of the highest quality, must be produced using healthy fruits and must not be processed because this would substantially change it. Only by using this means of production can it truly be known as “liquid oil” or “the blood of the Mediterranean diet” as it has been colourfully called.
EVO Oil, which is 98% triglycerides and free fatty acids, and 2% chlorophyll, carotenoids and other antioxidants, can be considered a useful medicine both for good health and for the prevention of diseases such as cancer.
The minor components, that is the fraction which is not saponifiable, besides having many positive properties (high antioxidant effect, lowering cholesterol, speeding the healing of wounds), determine the colour, the aroma, and taste of oil, due to the presence of antioxidants such as Vitamin E, phenolic compounds (ferulic & caffeic acids), sterols, hydrocarbons (betacarotene), terpenic alcohols, phospholipides, flavourings and colourings (chlorophil & carotenoids).
The saponifiable components, besides the triglycerides, are fatty acids, which, in descending percentage order, are monosatured (rich in oleic acid), polyunsaturated (linoleic and linolenic acid) and saturated. Among the unsaturated fatty acids, in vegetable oils and fish, which are healthier than saturated ones, the monosaturated, being the main components of oleic acid, that is EVO Oil, are the best and healthiest.
Oleic acid is a fundamental component of our cellular membranes, and it gives them fluidity and permeability, besides carrying out an important antioxidant action against free radicals.
Further to that oleic acid:
- Reduces lipid oxidation:
- Increases resistance to the oxidation of low density lipoproteins (LDL);
- Lowers factor VII levels (platelets anticoagulant);
- Reduces blood pressure;
- Modulates the immune system, increasing resistance to viruses, bacteria and fungi.
As we live in an environment made of oxygen, we release electrons to produce energy and the radicals left alive cause ageing, diseases, damage or cellular death. We can guard ourselves against the oxidant action of free radicals and from the oxidant stress our cells are exposed to daily, neutralizing them through the foods we eat.
EVO Oil, rich in the same oleic acid which makes up our cellular membranes, plus antioxidant substances protecting our cells, must be taken daily, in the amount of 50 mls lifelong, starting as early as possible, (even during lactation, as it improves the quality of mother’s milk), and as part of a Mediterranean Diet. The aim is:
- To prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing total and LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol, thus encouraging the production of anticoagulant and vasodilator compounds and reducing blood pressure;
- To prevent chronic inflammation, autoimmune diseases, cataracts, dementia, Alzheimer, arteriosclerosis and cancer;
- To combat ageing and cognitive deterioration;
- To lower blood glucose levels;
- To strengthen the immune system against the attacks of viruses and bacteria;
- To support bone growth in infancy and reduce its loss in old age;
- To improve intestinal absorption;
- To diminish the formation of gallstones;
- To diminish gastric secretion;
- To diminish the secretory activity of the pancreas.
Numerous studies have shown that regular consumption of EVO Oil reduces the risk of some types of breast cancer by 35%.
It has also been demonstrated that EVO Oil and the Mediterranean Diet:
- Prevent the onset of cancer;
- Slow down the progression of the disease;
- Stop the cellular proliferation of tumours;
The Studio Predimed (Barcellona) on the effect of the Mediterranean Diet in the prevention of cardiovascular disease has shown that daily consumption of EVO Oil:
- Helps to avoid osteoporosis;
The use of EVO Oil in the Mediterranean Diet:
- Increases significantly the cognitive abilities of older people:
- Reduces the risk of stroke in patients with a predisposition;
- Reduces the risk of diabetes by 40%;
- Reduces the probability of peripheral arteriopathy in the lower limbs by 66% in people who are at high vascular risk;
- Reduces by 30% the probability of atrial fibrillation (arrhythmia affects 1 person in 4 during their lifetime);
- Reverses the metabolic syndrome;
Adding dry fruit to EVO Oil:
- Reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases by 35%.
Recently Oleocanthal has been discovered in EVO Oil, an anti-inflammatory molecule with a different structure from that of Ibuprofen but very similar properties. It could be used in future to prevent many diseases, from the blockage of Bottallo’s duct to the treatment of Alzheimer.
From: AA VV DIETA MEDITERRANEA Atti del Forum Imperia 13 – 16 Novembre
Franco Angeli editore2015