Epidemiological studies conducted during the second half of the twentieth century proved that the inhabitants of the Mediterranean live healthy lives and have significantly lower rates of degenerative diseases, in particular cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Several studies focused on the importance of olives in the Mediterranean diet. It has been determined that olives contain significant quantities of hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol, squalene and terpenoids – molecules proven to be anticancer agents. Scientific studies concur with the theory that high olive oil and olive consumption in Southern Europe is an important contribution to the Mediterranean diet benefits.
Fresh extra virgin olive oil contains a chemical compound which produces a painkilling effect.
The compound known as oleocanthal has a characteristically prounounced bitter taste and it blocks the same pain mechanisms as some of the existing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Oleocanthal is a natural anti-inflammatory substance with power and characteristics of widely used painkilling medicines. Daily intake of 50 g of olive oil has the same effect as 1/10 of the recommended daily dose of painkillers for an adult patient. Scientists concluded that a regular daily consumption of olive oil has the same positive effects in the long run as taking painkillers.
Olive oil is easily digestible, with a soothing effect on the heart and blood vessels. Due to the high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (77%) and antioxidants, olive oil protects HDL, known as "good" cholesterol and reduces LDL or "bad" cholesterol. Children digest it much easier than any other kind of fat because breast milk is high in oleic acid. Containing a high quantity of antioxidants, especially phenols, extra virgin olive oil slows down the aging process due to its impact on oxidative stress.
Olive oil anti-inflammatory effects
Scientific studies have proven that vitamin E, oleic acid and polyphenol compounds hydroxityrosol and oleuropein inhibit inflammatory processes. Diseases such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are inflammation induced; anti-inflammatory effects of these compounds in olives can help their treatment. This therapeutic effect has been confirmed by researches; there is a lower risk in developing rheumatoid arthritis among people who consume olives and olive oil compared to those who don’t.