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Blood Pressure & Obesity : Olive Oil can help
25 May 2015

Various research studies have reported a close relationship between diet and blood pressure. Certain foods can raise blood pressure besides having an effect on body weight.

High blood pressure is known as arterial hypertension and is considered to occur when blood pressure readings are constantly over 140/90 mmHg.

High blood pressure is one of the main coronary risk factors in the development of arteriosclerosis. Along with high blood cholesterol, cigarette smoking, obesity and diabetes, it is one of the main health problems of the developed world. Like other risk factors, lifestyle can contribute to high blood pressure.

One in every four adults is hypertensive. This increases the risk of early death because of the damage to the body's arteries, especially the arteries that supply blood to the heart, kidneys, brain and eyes.

It has not yet been clearly established what elements of the Mediterranean diet are responsible for its effects in reducing blood pressure. It has been demonstrated, however, that the addition of olive oil to a diet that is not changed in any other way has a clear lowering effect on blood pressure, which seems to be specific to this oil. Regular consumption of olive oil decreases both systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure.

There is recent evidence that when olive oil is consumed the daily dose of drugs needed to control blood pressure in hypertensive patients can be decreased, possibly because of a reduction in nitric acid caused by the polyphenols.

Obesity is also a major health issue in the West because people eat large amounts and get little physical exercise. Nowadays, in cities especially, people are adopting a sedentary, stressful life. Over half the population of some industrialised countries is overweight, leading to increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, all factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Obesity or overweight is when energy reserves, primarily in the form of fat, are excessive. It occurs when the amount of energy obtained through the diet is greater than the amount of energy expended. It is corrected by ensuring that energy expenditure (physical exercise, basal metabolic rate, etc.) is greater than energy intake.
A good weight-reducing diet should:
. provide less energy than is needed to maintain body weight;
. supply adequate amounts of all the nutrients;
. be acceptable, affordable and palatable.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a nutrient of great biological value. Like all other fats and oils it is high in calories (9 Kcal per gram), which could make one think that it would contribute to obesity. However, experience shows that there is less obesity amongst the Mediterranean people, who consume the most olive oil.

It has been demonstrated that an olive-oil-rich diet leads to greater and longer-lasting weight loss than a low-fat diet. It is accepted better because it tastes good and it is a stimulus to eat vegetables. 


Other popular articles by Ian Mackay ©

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Introduction-Part 1

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil- Olive Oil Categories-Part 2

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - How to recognise an authentic extra virgin olive oil - Part 3

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Olive Oil Tasting - Part 4

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - True Virginity - Part 5

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - The perfect Crime Scene - Part 6

Go to article: The World of Olive Oil - Harvesting Olives - Part 7

Go to article: Can I fry with Oilve Oil?




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Antioxidant benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
14 May 2015

First of all, what is  'Oxidation'? It is a process that occurs not only when oil is being produced, but also inside our own bodies. Reactions occur continually inside the body, giving rise to the formation of free radicals (peroxidants). As a rule, free radicals do not cause severe damage thanks to the protection provided by antioxidants, which help to keep a balance up to a point. If the balance is spoiled, however, "oxidative stress" occurs, leading to deterioration of normal cell functions and even cell death.

Oxidation is a complex, fundamental phenomenon in the process of cell ageing. Lipid or fat peroxidation tends to be proportional to the number of double bonds in a compound, explaining why oleic acid shows little susceptibility to oxidation.

Cell membranes contain a large amount of fat and cholesterol and their composition depends on diet. When the diet contains a lot of olive oil, the cells are more resistant to oxidation, they do not deteriorate as much and ageing is slower.

Approximately 1.5% of olive oil is made up of the unsaponifiable fraction, which contains antioxidants. Virgin olive oil contains the largest quantities of these substances and other minor components.

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), carotenoids and phenolic compounds (simple phenols such as hydroxytyrosol and complex phenols such as oleuropein) are all antioxidants whose activity has been demonstrated in vitro and recently in vivo, revealing further advantages in the prevention of certain diseases and also of ageing.

The phenolic content of olive oils varies according to the climatic conditions in the producing area, when the olives are harvested and how ripe they are when picked. Oil production and storage methods also have an influence. Phenols have countless biological properties, for instance hydroxytyrosol  is anti-inflammatory and oleuropein encourages the formation of nitric acid, which is a powerful vasodilator and exerts a strong anti-bacterial effect.

Oxidised LDLs are known to be atherogenic, which is where olive oil steps in because it has a beneficial, protective effect against LDL oxidation. Moreover, it also strengthens other cells in the body against the toxic effects of oxidants.

The high antioxidant content of the Mediterranean diet appears to contribute significantly to its effect on longevity.

These antioxidants are found in fresh fruit and vegetables. Because it is the only oil to be obtained from a fruit, olive oil retains a host of substances, antioxidants and vitamins that give it added nutritional value.

The explanation behind this high content of antioxidants is probably that because the olive is a fruit that is exposed to the air, it has to defend itself from oxygen. It therefore synthesises a larger amount of antioxidants, which pass through to the oil.

Virgin olive oil, i.e. olive oil that has not been refined or industrially treated, is particularly rich in these substances and it has a strong antioxidant effect, protecting against damage from free radicals (scavenger activity) and against the formation of cancer.


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Olive Oil testing underway in the UK
04 May 2015

Food and drink research firm Campden BRI has been chosen by the Rural Payments Agency to carry out authenticity testing of olive oil.

Authenticity of food and drink products and ingredients has become steadily more important to the consumer - and hence to regulatory authorities - in recent years.

Ingredient substitution can be classified as a fraudulent activity and is defined, by the Food Standards Agency, as: “The deliberate placement on the market, for financial gain, with the intention of deceiving the consumer, covering two main types of fraud. These include the sale of food which is unfit and potentially harmful, as well as the deliberate mis-description of food, such as products substituted with a cheaper alternative.”
In food testing, typical quality control questions asked include: is the rice basmati, is the burger really beef, and is the fish finger really cod?

These types of questions require a range of different techniques to determine the answers - including chemical and biochemical analysis, DNA fingerprinting, and various forms of spectroscopy and microscopic evaluation.
Authenticity is important because certain food characteristics, such as their origin and exact nature, are indicative of higher quality.

For example, the authenticity of olive oil has always been very important. EU olive oil regulations are coming into force in the UK to help ensure that olive oil is marketed correctly and to provide a deterrent against fraud which is rife within the industry.

Campden BRI will help enforce these regulations via chemical testing at its laboratories in Gloucestershire.
Head of chemistry and biochemistry at Campden BRI Julian South says: “The chemical analytical techniques that we will be using include methods and all sound quite familiar, but much of the skill lies in the interpretation of results which demands experience and understanding.

“We are responsible for all the testing of Extra Virgin olive oil, Virgin olive oil, olive oil composed of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils, and olive pomace oil imported into the UK.”

South says the contract is to analyse batches of olive oil for a range of lipid components which are used to categorise it into different grades.
“These results, in collaboration with sensory analysis to be undertaken by a laboratory approved by the International Olive Oil Council, will be used to determine whether the grade declared on the product label is genuine,” South says.

....And it's about time too.

[source: Laboratory Talks]


Read my previous post "The Perfect Crime"

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