Making Sense of the Mediterranean Diet
The Olive Oil Diet puts a new perspective on the Mediterranean Diet, combining the long established and ever expanding database of scientific knowledge about this most healthy of lifestyles, with the emerging understanding of the nutritional secrets of olive oil – the vital ingredient at its heart.
Olive oil is the common element which runs through all the regional versions of the Mediterranean Diet, not only as the ubiquitous cooking medium but also adding flavour, texture and its own unique nutritional power to all aspects of the culinary culture and way of life. Olive oil is always in the kitchen and table whatever the season and wherever the cuisine can be called Mediterranean.
Good Fats and Beyond
Now we are recognising the pivotal role of good fats in promoting good health, it should be no surprise that olive oil ticks all the boxes in this area. The traditional diet of Crete, at one time heralded as the gold standard of optimum nutrition, was rich in fat, eighty percent of which was said to derive from olive oil, and has long been associated with a long and healthy life.
Yet as the Olive Oil Diet explains, the benefits of olive oil derive from much more than its healthy fat content. We learn about the theory of the role of antioxidants in natural plant based foods, and the uniquely powerful and varied range of these chemicals in extra virgin olive oils. The health effects of olive oil may in fact be more to do with these compounds than the profile of fats.
The Secret Life of Food
Olive oil, as the conductor of the orchestra of the Mediterranean Diet also plays a vital role in making nutritional effects far more than the sum of its individual parts – supercharging healthy ingredients in cooking or in the combination of raw foods. The science of the way foods interact is just beginning. For example;
- Cooking vegetables rich in fat soluble vitamins with olive oil produces more beneficial easily absorbable nutrients than if cooked separately
- Eating olive oil with carbohydrate foods can decrease the absorption of sugar and so reduce the glycaemic load of a meal.
- Cooking fish in olive oil protects the heat sensitive omega 3 polyunsaturates in the fish from break down.
- Combining olive oil with green salad vegetables rich in nitrates produces nitro fatty acids which can reduce blood pressure.
- Marinating meat in olive oil reduces the production of harmful compounds on cooking
The effects of olive oil in this way contributes to the extraordinary science explored in the Olive Oil Diet
More and More Published Evidence
For example, The EPIC study of 40,000 Spaniards over more than a decade reported that the risk of heart disease was nearly halved in people who consumed two tablespoons of olive oil a day. The same study showed that those who consumed the most olive oil had a decrease in death rates from any cause by an incredible 26%
A study in France made headlines through its conclusions that there was a forty percent reduction in the rate of strokes in the group of the 7,500 individuals who regularly consumed olive oil.
The chances of developing other serious chronic diseases is also very significantly reduced, with the risk of developing type 2 diabetes halved with regular use of olive oil.
The Predimed study, based in Spain and involving 7000 individuals has produced a wealth of information showing the benefits of an olive oil enriched Mediterranean Diet. This landmark study comparing diets came to an early end for ethical reasons because it was necessary to advised all the participants of the thirty percent reduced risk of developing heart disease or strokes in the Mediterranean Diet group with the supplemented extra virgin olive oil.
All of this and more is included in The Olive Oil Diet.