Olive oil, that golden elixir from the Mediterranean, has long been known to confer many health benefits such as preventing heart disease and colon cancer. It is one reason why people who eat the Mediterranean dietlive such long, healthy and happy lives. A recent study has found that olive oil is effective against HER-2 positive breast cancer, a form of breast cancer for which the medical establishment offers little in the way of tolerable treatment.Phenols from extra virgin olive oil inhibit HER-2 activityIn a study reported in the journal BMC Cancer, researchers investigated the anti-HER-2 effects of phenols from commercial extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in cultured human breast cancer cell lines. They found that all the major EVOO phenols induced strong tumor killing effects by selectively triggering high levels of programmed cell death in cells with over expression of HER-2. EVOO phenols induced HER-2 down regulation regardless of the molecular mechanism contributing to HER-2 over expression. (i.e. naturally by gene amplification or driven by a viral promoter).Olive oil has a long history as a healer
The health and therapeutic benefits of olive oil were first mentioned by Hippocrates, who promoted the idea that food was the best and only medicine worth using. Olive oil has contributed to the nutrition and beauty of the Mediterraneans for centuries, where it is used to maintain skin, hair, and muscle suppleness. Olive oil is one reason Mediterranean women have such glowing complexions. Olive oil is a healer of abrasions and soother of the sunburned.
Consuming olive oil can help lower LDL cholesterol. It is rich in antioxidants that discourage artery clogging and chronic diseases involving the cardiovascular system. People who use olive oil regularly and in place of other fats such as hydrogenated fats and vegetable seed oils have much lower rates of atherosclerosis, diabetes, colon cancer, and asthma.
A study done in Greece and reported in Clinical Cardiology found that relying only on olive oil may cut the risk of coronary heart disease almost in half. The study involved 700 men and 148 women with coronary heart disease along with 1078 matched controls. It looked at diet as well as alcohol intake, physical activity and smoking habits. Use of oils in daily cooking and food preparation was evaluated. After adjusting for a variety of variables, the exclusive use of olive oil was associated with a 47% lower likelihood of coronary heart disease.
People who consume 25 milliliters (about 2 tablespoons) of virgin olive oil daily for one week showed less oxidation of LDL cholesterol and higher blood levels of antioxidant compounds, especially the phenols used in the HER-2 study.
Olive oil is monounsaturated fat
There are three kinds of dietary fats: saturated fat that comes from animals and coconuts; polyunsaturated fat that comes from seeds, nuts, and vegetable oil; and monounsaturated fat that comes from olive and safflower oil. Monounsatured fats are popular with some people because they contain no cholesterol. However, most of the benefits of olive oil do not come from the fact it is a monunsaturated fat. Instead, it is the phenols of olive oil that produce its remarkable benefits as was seen in the HER-2 study.
Extra virgin olive oil is well worth its cost
While all types of olive oil are sources of monounsaturated fat, extra virgin olive oil, the oil that comes from the first pressing of the olives, contains the highest levels of antioxidants, phenols and vitamin E, because it is less processed.
Generally olive oil is extracted by pressing or crushing olives. It comes in different varieties depending on the amount of pressing. These include:
Extra virgin oil – considered the best variety. It is extracted without the use of heat, and is considered a cold pressed oil. Because there are no heat or chemicals involved in its processing the flavor remains intact. As it is handled less, it retains more of its natural state.
Virgin oil – from the second pressing. It is like using a tea bag twice. The nutrients and the flavor just are not what they were the first time around.
Pure – oil has undergone some processing and heat during filtering and refining. A little extra virgin olive oil is added to this refined oil, and creates what is considered a lower grade of oil that is frequently sold under the simple term olive oil in the U.S.
Extra light – this oil has undergone considerable processing and is valued by some for its lack of flavor. In this processing many nutrients are compromised. The name extra light is there to fool uninformed people into thinking it is low fat. This type of oil is unregulated by any certification organization and there is no precedent as to what its content should be. Sometimes it has been cut with other vegetable oils.
Using olive oil
Olive oil prefers to hide its beauty. It does best when kept in a cool and dark location, in a tightly sealed bottle. This is why the really good extra virgin oils come in dark glass bottles. Like other oils, olive oil can easily become rancid when exposed to air, light or high temperatures.
The measure of an oils ability to be used in cooking is its smoke point. Once an oil begins to smoke it has lost its integrity and is producing free radicals.
Olive oil has a low smoke point and is fine for use in cooking at very low temperatures. For cooking at higher temperatures, safflower oil or coconut oil are much better choices. Safflower oil, the other monosaturated oil, retains its integrity at temperatures up to 500 degrees, as does coconut oil. The flavor of safflower oil is not as delicate as that of olive oil, but when it is used in cooking other flavors usually blend well with its taste.
Get creative with olive oil
Add olive oil to almost any cooked food after it has cooled. Use it in soups, sauces, beans, stews, and vegetable dishes. Replace vegetable oil in salad dressings and mayonnaise. Any mealtime fat can be replaced by olive oil. Put some in fresh veggie juices and smoothies. Use it in baked potatoes with herbs such as turmeric, cayenne and cumin. Add it to mashed potatoes. Warm green beans, broccoli or spinach and add olive oil and garlic. Coat cooked pasta in it and add some herbs. Olive oil makes a great dip for bread, especially when embellished with some oregano or thyme. Put it on air popped corn along with some sea salt and black pepper.
Use olive oil as a hair conditioner, diaper rash treatment, and skin softener. Rub it on your breasts.
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