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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Olive Oil...A Healthy Part of a Mediterranean Diet

According to a recent article on, olive oil is one of the Top 5 2013 Food Trends and it's no wonder. Besides tasting good, olive oil has been proven to be healthier than most other oils as well as being versatile. As I mentioned in my recent post, Should you eat a Mediterranean diet?, olives & olive oil are key to the Mediterranean diet and is the principal oil used in cooking and baking. Extra virgin olive oil, the one I use, has the highest health promoting fats and other important nutrients. 

When I visited Italy, olive trees were in abundance, lining every
traveled road. They use nets to capture the falling fruit so as not to
 damage them before the pressing process. 
Since the age of Hippocrates, many studies have shown the nutritional value of olive oil and when consumed, supply us with large quantities of monounsaturated lipid or unsaturated fatty acids; which aide in lowering our LDL or bad cholesterol levels. To be considered "virgin", an olive oil has to be cold-pressed; which means that it is only produced by crushing the entire olive and its' pit with a machine without using any chemicals. 

Here are some examples of how olive oil can help if added to your diet: 

The consumption of olive oil ensures the necessary intake of monounsaturates by increasing HDL levels and decreasing LDL (bad cholesterol), which contributes to healthy cardiovascular system, controls hypertension and reduces the risk of cardiac disorders, such as heart attacks. 

Based on a study by Sir Richard Doll, an English epidemiologist and Nobelist, there is a relation between the high consumption of eating fatty substances and some forms of cancer. Olive oil has antioxidant  substances such as Vitamin E; which protects the cells from oxidation and deterioration which may lead to carcinogenesis. 

Correct weight reduction and nutrition are key in fighting diabetes. The consumption of olive oil helps to reduce lipid levels and regulates sugar in the blood. It also remains longer in the stomach; which allows you to feel fuller longer. 

Peptic Digestive System
Research has shown that there is a direct link between the consumption of olive oil and the functions of the peptic digestive system by balancing the gastric acid secretions and prevents the formation of gallstones. 

Restaurants are also growing more and more accustomed to special requests, so don't be afraid to ask your server if the chef can substitute extra virgin olive oil as an alternative to butter or other oils when preparing your meal. At home, you can use olive oil in just about any type of cooking, but make sure what you're buying is labeled extra virgin variety which has a naturally fruity taste with an green-yellow color. 

Did you know...

...that Greece uses the largest consumption of olive oil per person out of all of the Mediterranean countries? I saw this beautiful olive tree that we used as shade cover during a VERY hot, over 100 degree day climbing up approximately 100 steps from the base of the Acropolis to the top of the Parthenon in Greece. It was the only tree next to the structure. It was so beautiful and offered a lovely place to stop and rest. 


  1. Carrie, until last night I would have commented something about how I recently discovered my love for green olives but I still don't like black olives.

    But then, walking through a Meijer grocery store on a Friday night hard cider run, I tried a sample from those corner carts. It was a black olive, stuffed with cream cheese, and wrapped in deli ham. Delish! I don't know if I was just starved because I'd been driving for 6 hours (sled hockey tournament) or what, but I'm going to make that at home.

    Thanks for the olive info!

    1. Oh those sound different, let me know how they come out!


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