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Olive Oil and Your Health

Squalene in Virgin Olive Oil May Help Tissue Repair

By ROSA GONZALEZ-LAMAS on October 22, 2018

Squalenes, a compound found in virgin olive oil, might help cicatrization and tissue repair according to a research study by the University of Jaén.

The role squalenes exert in the immunomodulation of proinflammatory macrophages suggests that this compound found in virgin olive oil might benefit tissue repair and the cicatrization of wounds.

This is the main finding of a research study undertaken by Spain’s University of Jaén to identify specific components of virgin olive oil that are responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties. This is an initial step to later ascertain whether they could be used to treat inflammatory diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

The conclusions of this study were detailed in the research article “Squalene Stimulates a Key Innate Immune Cell to Foster Wound Healing and Tissue Repair,” published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Squalene is the main minor compound of virgin olive oil, its main hydrocarbon and the major component of its nonsaponifiable fraction. It reacts against chemical, physical, bacterial, and exogenous stress signals, protecting the skin’s surface. The compound helps prevent skin damage and has anti-inflammatory properties which are presumed to be capable of preventing cancer, skin damage, and atherosclerotic lesions.

Virgin olive oils have high concentrations of squalene.

The study explored the role of squalenes exert on the proinflammatory responses of certain macrophages and concluded these are a natural product that might be beneficial at the last stage of wound closures because of their immunomodulation of macrophages. Macrophages are the main innate cells involved in repairing tissues and bringing inflammation to an end.

Two kinds of macrophages are involved in wound cicatrization: M1 and M2. M2 macrophages have anti-inflammatory properties and are key for the definitive healing of wounds. The interaction of M1 and M2 macrophages takes the healing process from infection to recovery; without squalenes, cicatrization will be deficient and tissue damage may occur.

According to the study, squalenes appear to act as a mediator in tissue remodeling and repair by promoting a switch from M1 into M2 macrophages, thereby recruiting immune cells and producing anti-inflammatory signals.

The study was led by José Juan Gaforio, professor of Immunology at the University of Jaén. Researchers from the University’s Center for Advanced Studies in Olive Groves and Olive Oils, and the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health of the University of Navarra also participated in the study.

A finding of the study was that squalene’s concentration levels may have an influence on how this compound behaves during the healing process. The report recommends to further study the behavior of squalenes in different concentrations to confirm if elevated squalene concentrations might be adverse, rather than beneficial.

Recently, squalenes have been used in several applications, including chemopreventive in several tumors. Years ago, the University of Jaén also conducted another study that suggested squalenes might help prevent breast cancer because they helped reduce oxidative damage upon epithelial cells.

Frequent Olive Oil Consumption May Reduce Risk of Blood Clots

By MARY WEST on March 18, 2019

In a recent study, the participants who consumed the most olive oil had the least platelet accumulation, which could lead to heart disease and stroke.
New research found eating olive oil at least once a week was associated with lower platelet activity in obese adults.

Since platelets are involved in blood clot formation, this effect could reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Olive oil is a vital part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to cardiovascular benefits.

Our study suggests that choosing to eat olive oil may have the potential to help modify that risk, potentially lowering an obese person's threat of having a heart attack or stroke.- Sean P. Heffron, assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine 

Platelets are fragments of blood cells that bind together when activated. When a blood vessel suffers harm, platelets rush to the damaged site to form a plug; however, this beneficial process can become a threat to health.

Platelets also contribute to the formation of artery-clogging plaque, called atherosclerosis, which underlies the majority of heart attacks and strokes, Sean P. Heffron, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at New York University’s School of Medicine, explained.

SEE MORE: Olive Oil Health News

The participants in the study were 63 obese nonsmoking adults with an average age of 32 and an average body mass index (BMI) of 41. Anyone with a BMI of more than 30 is considered obese.

Heffron and his colleagues used food frequency questionnaires to determine how often the .,individuals consumed olive oil.

Analysis showed that participants who ate olive oil at least once a week had less platelet activation than those who ate it less frequently. In addition, those who consumed olive oil most often had the least level of platelet accumulation.

The research team believes that aside from the plentiful amount of antioxidants in olive oil, the anti-platelet action has something to do with the structure of its molecules.

“People who are obese are at increased risk of having a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular event, even if they don’t have diabetes or other obesity-associated conditions,” Heffron said. “Our study suggests that choosing to eat olive oil may have the potential to help modify that risk, potentially lowering an obese person’s threat of having a heart attack or stroke.”

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to assess the effects of dietary composition, olive oil specifically, on platelet function in obese patients,” coauthor Ruina Zhang, a NYU medical student, added.

The study had several limitations. It relied on self-reporting of olive oil consumption, and it didn’t include information on the quantity consumed.

Moreover, because the investigation was observational, it showed a link rather than a cause-effect relationship. Results were recently presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention | Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health Scientific Sessions 2019.

In addition to platelet activation, other factors influence cardiovascular health, one of which is inflammation. Physician Nikola Djordjevic, founder and project manager of…, told Olive Oil Times how a component of olive oil helps remediate this condition.

“One of the best properties of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that makes up three-fourths of olive oil, is that it reduces inflammation,” she said. “This, in turn, is beneficial for the health of your arteries, as long-term inflammation can cause damage that leads to atherosclerosis. Thus, olive oil can play a major role in preventing heart disease and stroke.”


Olive Oil Reduces Arthritis Inflammation

While tasting extra-virgin olive oils in Sicily, Gary Beauchamp, PhD, director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, noticed a ticklish, peppery sensation in the back of his throat. It was nearly identical to the “sting” he’d felt when swallowing a liquid form of NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, during previous sensory studies. Beauchamp detected a connection between the olive oil and inflammation.

Further studies revealed that a compound in the oil, called oleocanthal, prevents the production of pro-inflammatory COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes – the same way ibuprofen works.

“By inhibiting these enzymes, inflammation and the increase in pain sensitivity associated with them is dampened,” says Paul Breslin, PhD, co-author of the 2011 study. Researchers found the intensity of the “throaty bite” in oil is directly related to the amount of oleocanthal it contains. “Virgin olive oils from Tuscany, or other regions that have the same variety of olives, have the highest oleocanthal levels,” says Breslin.

A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in 2015 looked specifically at the benefits of oleocanthal for rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers found that this compound had a significant impact not only on chronic inflammation but also on acute inflammatory processes.

More Than Inflammation

Extra-virgin olive oil has benefits beyond stemming inflammation. Several studies have shown benefits for heart health, bone loss and neurological diseases (affecting the brain, spine, muscles and connecting nerves). A study published in Molecules in 2014 discussed the effect of a component of the oil, called hydroxytyrosol, which had a protective effect on the neurological system. In an animal study published in the peer-reviewed journal, PLOSOne in 2014, researchers showed that when virgin olive oil was combined with vitamin D, it protected against bone loss. Another study, led by Dr. Francisco Perez-Jimenez of the University of Cordoba, Spain in 2005 showed that a compound found in the oil, called polyphenol, promoted heart health.

Getting The Full Benefits of Virgin Olive Oil

Researchers say that about 3 1/2 Tbsp. of the oil is equal to a 200-mg tablet of ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is widely used to help control pain and inflammation. But serious side effects can occur if it’s used for more than 10 days. Virgin olive oil may lessen how much you need to take, but talk to your doctor before changing your medication regimen.

Be aware that 3 1/2 Tbsp. of the oil has more than 400 calories. So, it’s a good idea to use in moderation so that excess calories don’t lead to weight gain.

Do not heat olive oil to high temperatures (about 410 degrees), because this kills some of the beneficial properties. At lower temperatures, you can sauté vegetables (300 degrees) or fry breaded items (340 degrees), and reap the benefits of switching out butter for olive oil. You can also use it at room temperature in salad dressings, as a dip for bread, or for tossing pasta or veggies.

Protect the oil’s healthful properties by keeping it in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry, but you can store in the fridge too. Don’t keep next to the stove. At the grocery store, choose the dark bottles and one that at the back of the shelf – it’s been shielded from the fluorescent light.


10 Teaspoons of Fresh High Quality EVOO a Day Keeps the Doctor Away 

Olive oil may help prevent and even fight breast cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain, and published in the journal Carcinogenesis.

The researchers found that olive oil appeared to protect rat DNA from the damage that can lead to cancer. Furthermore, it seemed to deactivate key proteins required for the continued survival of breast cancer cells.

Because the benefits were only seen in rats who consumed olive oil over the long term, researcher Eduard Escrich recommends that everyone consume 50 milliliters (10 teaspoons) of high-quality, extra-virgin olive oil each day.

Previous studies have linked olive oil to a lowered risk of certain kinds of cancer. Olive oil is also a critical component of the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with a lower risk of not only cancer, but also heart disease and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

In another study, conducted by researchers from Barcelona's Insitut Municial d'Investigacion Medica and published in the journal FASEB, olive oil was found to hamper the activity of genes associated with the hardening of arteries characteristic of heart disease.

"Knowing which genes can be modulated by diet in a healthy way can help people select healthy foods," researcher Maria Isabel Covas said.

"This study is ground-breaking because it shows that olive oil and a Mediterranean diet affect our bodies in a far more significant way than previously believed," said Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of "FASEB."

The Mediterranean diet is high in fruit, vegetables, fish, whole grains, and fatsfrom nuts and olive oil. It is low in red meat and dairy, and alcohol (especially red wine) is consumed in moderation. Researchers believe that the healthy fats and antioxidants found in these foods may play a crucial role in the diet's benefits.

Another classic Mediterranean ingredient, garlic, has been found to destroy breast cancer cells in the laboratory.

Health Benefits Associated with Consuming Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Could a traditional food have pain- and inflammation-reducing effects similar to over the counter pain medicine like ibuprofen?

Scientists from Italy, Spain, the U.S. and Australia have discovered that extra virgin olive oil can provide significant health benefits, including the ability to help reduce pain and inflammation. 
This robust, flavorful oil is an example of the food as medicine concept, that foods can have a powerful impact on health. 
A Mythical, Sacred Oil 
From ancient Greece to the Holy Land, olive oil has been treasured. Celebrated as sacred in Greek mythology, the olive branch symbolized peace in Hellenic culture. Evidence of this ancient oil was discovered in 1901 at the "Room of the Olive Press" at Knossos on the island of Crete in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. From there olives were pressed into oil over 4,500 years ago and the olive oil was exported to North Africa and mainland Greece.
Cultivation of olive trees spread around the Mediterranean where olive oil flourished along with many early civilizations. The bible speaks of olive oil, and it has been used by Christianity and Judaism as a holy anointing oil. 
Today, the major producers of olive oil are Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco and Syria. 
But the growing popularity of olive oil can be seen in the spread of cultivation around the world to countries such as the U.S., Chile, and South Africa. Australia has become an energetic olive oil producer and exporter, and has just announced a record crop.
During travels with my family from the south of France to Tuscany to Greece I have witnessed the special beauty of the olive tree and tasted its fruit. Able to withstand heat, sun and survive on only a little moisture, the hardy olive tree became an icon of the Mediterranean region. Freezing temperatures, however, can harm the trees and the crop.
Eating Healthy With Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil can contribute nutritional support in the fight against such health problems as arthritiscardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and in pain management. 
A research study from Spain has shown that higher olive oil consumption is associated with leaner body weight, an important factor in prevention of chronic conditions.
Another study from the universities of Navarra and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain looked at how diets including olive oil might offer protection against depression: Bad Fats Linked to Depression 
Natural Painkiller Discovered in Olive Oil
Recent research has identified the antioxidant called oleocanthal, which is only found in extra-virgin olive oil. Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, found that oleocanthal in olive oil has a potency strikingly similar to that of the drug ibuprofen in inhibiting the cyclooxygenase (Cox) enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. Their findings were published in the science magazine Nature.
Given the side effects of common pain relieving drugs, finding a nutritional way to reduce pain and inflammation could be a solution for people suffering from pain.
In another study Italian researchers explain that the characteristic pungent and bitter taste of virgin olive oil have been attributed to phenols in the oil that have potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive and anti-cancer benefits.
Research on Health Benefits of Olive Oil
At the meeting of the "International conference on the healthy effect of virgin olive oil" that took place in Spain in 2005, numerous benefits of virgin olive oil from the research were outlined. They looked at the consumption of olive oil from the perspective of issues such as cardiovascular health, cancer and longevity. With respect to anti-aging they noted: "The more recent studies consistently support that the Mediterranean diet, based in virgin olive oil, is compatible with a healthier ageing and increased longevity."
Consumption of olive oil has been associated with:

Reduction of total cholesterol and an increase in the high-density cholesterol (HDL-C), which has a protective effect on blood vessels.

Improved sensitivity of cells to insulin, which helps to prevent the Metabolic Syndrome. Preventing Metabolic Syndrome is important, because the syndrome increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.

Decreased risk of cardiovascular diseasehigh blood pressure and Alzheimer's disease.

Potent Antioxidant Power of Olive Oil
Phenolic compounds are potent antioxidants found in virgin and extra-virgin olive oil. These compounds give unrefined olive oils their distinctive flavors and high degree of stability. 

Studies indicate these compounds may be able to:

Turn off the activity of genes that produce the kind of inflammation that causes coronary heart disease.

Decrease production of inflammatory chemicals called thromboxanes and leukotrienes.

Decrease the production of the most damaging form of cholesterol, oxidized LDL cholesterol.

University of South Australia researchers note that compounds from the olive were found to be antimicrobial against various bacteria.

And olive oil is just the beginning of anti-inflammatory foods. Learn more about fighting pain and inflammation in my article: Natural Anti- Inflammatory Foods and Supplements That Help Arthritis 
Enjoying Olive Oil
The research studies focus on the benefits of extra-virgin olive oil, so this is what I always buy. I look for organic oil that has been grown without pesticides. Freshness counts, so I like shop where they sell a lot of oil, such as a big health food store. Store it in a cool place.
The amount of olive oil associated with protection against inflammation is only two teaspoons a day, which is easy to achieve. A sprinkle of olive oil makes a simple salad dressing, and a little oil can be used for dipping bread, instead of butter. Olive oil can also be used in baking.
Here is a popular tangy and sweet recipe from my book The Fat Resistance Diet, an anti-inflammatory dietary program.

7 Reasons to Give Olive Oil to Your Dog

1. It helps the eater lose weight

Whether canine or human, if there are some unwanted pounds that need shedding, olive oil will help grease the weight-loss engine. The monounsaturated fats in olive oil actually encourage pound-melting by breaking down the fat inside fat cells, to get rid of belly fat and reduce insulin sensitivity.

2. It promotes optimal health

Rich in monounsaturated fats, olive oil prevents and lessens the effects of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It contains oleic acid, in addition to some compounds (squalene and terpenoids) that are believed to be effective in preventing cancer, which kills a staggering 50 percent of dogs over age 10.

3. It defends the immune system which may extend canine longevity

With high levels of antioxidants including polyphenols, vitamin E, and carotenoids, olive oil is very effective at arming the body's immune system so it can efficiently fight off disease. Olive oil prevents free radical cell oxidation which can lead to premature aging, this is especially important as canines’ transition from one season to another.

4. It’s a brain food

Olive oil helps prevent the cognitive decline associated with aging in all species, so be sure to serve it to senior dogs at least once daily, to keep their minds sharp and cloud-free.

5. It provides an energy boost

Olive oil can help improve canine circulation as well! Circulation improves, and breathing comes more easily with a daily dose of olive oil -- it helps increase blood flow and in humans, lessens the effects of asthma. It can be of particular benefit to breeds such as the Bulldog who sometimes struggle to breathe.

6. It’s a beauty treatment

Long used to beautify human hair and skin, olive oil can do the same for canines. Condition your dog's coat from the inside out with a daily serving, which helps to impart moisture and gleam to even the driest, dullest fur.

7. It’s good for maintaining joint and bone health

Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. As an anti-inflammatory, regular doses of olive oil in a dog’s diet can help reduce the amount of pain and stiffness that an aging dog feels. The omega-3 fatty acids in olive oil can aid in joint lubrication as well. Additionally, it’s a safe and economical alternative to many drug therapies.


Phenolic Compound in EVOO May Be Beneficial for Parkinson’s Disease

A new study found that tyrosol delayed neurodegeneration and contributed to a longer lifespan in worms by reducing oxidative stress and inducing the expression of different protective genes.

A new study published in Neurobiology of Aging suggests that tyrosol, a phenolic compound found in extra virgin olive oil, could have the potential to become a nutraceutical compound for Parkinson’s disease; bringing hope of a new treatment to the estimated 10 million worldwide sufferers of the progressive neurological condition.

The pioneering study, which was carried out by researchers from the University of Jaén and the Bellvitge Institute for Biomedical Research, examined the effects of tyrosol on Caenorhabditis elegans worms with various forms of Parkinsonism.

The research team discovered that worms treated with tyrosol enjoyed a significantly longer lifespan of around 21.33 days compared to untreated worms whose average lifespan was just 18.67 days.

The researchers concluded that tyrosol delayed neurodegeneration in worms and reduced oxidative stress. It also appeared to induce the expression of different protective genes in a particular form of Parkinsonism.

It was also noted that worms treated with tyrosol benefited from 80 percent of dopaminergic neurons being intact at two weeks of age compared to just 45.33 percent in untreated ones. This was an important finding as the loss of these neurons is a trademark of Parkinson’s disease.

The tyrosol treatment was also noted to significantly reduce the levels of molecules associated with damaging DNA and cellular structures. While untreated worms averaged 124.5 of these molecules, the tyrosol treated creatures had a much lower average of around 12.06. These figures suggested that the tyrosol treatment had been effective in reducing neurodegeneration.

The overall results suggested that the tyrosol treatment had had an effective antioxidant effect on the study’s worms with the treatment significantly increasing the expression of some proteins; including heat shock proteins which are known to assist cells in protecting themselves from damage.

The tyrosol treatment also substantially reduced the number of clumps of the alpha protein synuclein (an indicator of Parkinson’s disease) to 22.63 per worm in treated creatures compared to 58.72 per worm in untreated ones.

While it was noted that the treated worms ability to move independently was significantly better on the ninth day of its life, at no other points in time was there a notable difference. It was also reported that both treated and untreated worms developed paralysis by the time they reached 11 days old.

In an earlier study by the same research team, it was discovered that tyrosol delayed aging, increased life spans and reduced markers of cellular stress in worms. This study inspired the team to investigate if the phenol could be beneficial to neurodegenerative conditions, particularly Parkinson’s disease.

In 2016, Olive Oil Times reported on a study which found that phenols found in extra virgin olive oil provided antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to the brain and offered neuroprotective activity against diseases including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The beneficial effects of extra virgin olive oil have been attributed to its high levels of antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, with tyrosol, in particular, being acknowledged for its antioxidant properties.