We’ve all heard that olive oil is one of the healthiest choices we can make in our diet.
After all, as William Kormos, M.D., editor-in-chief of Harvard Men’s Health Watch points out, “Olive oil, regardless of type, is high in monounsaturated fatty acids, containing about 75% by volume. When substituted for saturated fat, monounsaturated fats help lower your ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil add benefits beyond cholesterol lowering.”
And those antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties with additional benefits?
Well, those could help:
- Fight free radical damage to guard against heart disease and cancer
- Reduce the inflammation that’s been linked to that heart disease and cancer, as well as diabetes, arthritis, and bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
That’s a lot of benefits from a tasty oil that you enjoy using in your cooking anyway, right?
Well, things might have just got even better…
Ivory-white and growing wild
Another study involving olive oil has given us one more way to grab all of the benefits of this healthy oil, and maybe even take it up a notch.
The research published in the journal Antioxidants specifically looked at the oil produced from wild olive trees, rather than the one produced from trees raised in those commercial groves.
And it found that this oil has “excellent sensorial, physicochemical and stability characteristics from a nutritional point of view.”
In other words, it tastes great, has all of the compounds that give you an amazing bang for your buck when it comes to your health, and it’s stable so those benefits don’t disappear as it sits on the shelf in your pantry.
The study looked at the fruits from wild olive trees of the natural reserve of the Medes islands in Catalonia. If you’re like me and need to look them up, those are islands in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Spain.
And the olives the trees produce there are known for being ivory-white.
Pretty amazing, right?
This ancient variety of olives is relatively rare and pretty much found growing only along the Mediterranean coast.
And there’s even some evidence that points to the fact that the special oil produced from these olives was once used to anoint emperors and kings.
Your LDL cholesterol
According to Professor Rosa M. Lamuela, professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences of the University of Barcelona and the Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition Networking Biomedical Research Centre (one of the expert authors of the study), the oil also has a special claim on health: protecting LDL or bad cholesterol from oxidative damage.
This is important because even though LDL is considered ‘bad’ cholesterol to begin with, oxidation takes bad to a whole new level.
You see, oxidation happens when free radicals interact with your LDL particles.
Then oxidized LDL binds to macrophages and that induces cholesterol accumulation. When this happens, it kicks off a downward spiral of atherosclerosis.
And since oxidized LDL is also associated with metabolic syndrome, which goes hand-in-hand with diabetes and heart disease, it’s easy to see why preventing LDL oxidation is so important.
This means the fact that the researchers believe this wild olive oil is a great choice to avoid that LDL oxidation is major!
So if you want to take the benefits olive oil brings to your health to the next level, try an olive oil made from wild olive trees bearing the ivory-white fruit. Research says you can’t go wrong!
It may be a little harder to find and a little more expensive, but certainly worth the benefits.
Is extra-virgin olive oil extra healthy? — Harvard Health
Healthy oil from wild olives — EurekAlert!
White Olives: The Rare Ancient Olive with Regal Roots — Finding Lovers
Antioxidants — Mayo Clinic
Understanding acute and chronic inflammation — Harvard Health
Role of Oxidized LDL in Atherosclerosis — Intech Open
Oxidized LDL Is Associated With Metabolic Syndrome Traits Independently of Central Obesity and Insulin Resistance — American Diabetes Association