Friday, January 16, 2009

Amazing Flavor and Health Benefits of Olive Oil

A Star of Global Cuisine

One of the first crops cultivated in the world, the olive produces an excellent oil that has been treasured since antiquity for its rich flavor and versatile uses. In recent years olive oil has become increasingly popular in global cuisine.

New research has focused a considerable amount of attention on how extra virgin olive oil can provide significant health benefits. Studies indicate that olive oil may provide important nutritional support in the fight against such health problems as arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and in pain management. An exciting study from Spain has shown that higher olive oil consumption is associated with leaner body weight. This demonstrates the importance of including the right types of healthy fats in an effective weight loss program, and why we use extra virgin olive oil in many recipes of our book The Fat Resistance Diet.

Powerful Health Benefits

Recent research has identified the antioxidant called oleocanthal, which is only found in extra-virgin olive oil. Oleocanthal is a natural inflammation fighting compound with potency strikingly similar to that of the drug ibuprofen in inhibiting an enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. Studies have shown that people with arthritis experience a decrease in pain and stiffness of their joints when treated with fish oil. Even better pain management results have been observed when, in addition to fish oil, extra-virgin olive oil is part of the diet.

The health benefits of olive oil are substantial. 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 your blood vessels.

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

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

Decreased risk of breast cancer.

A Delicious Oil for Kitchen and Table

The amount of olive oil associated with protection against inflammation is only two teaspoons a day, which is easy to achieve. In our test kitchen and at home we always keep a bottle of extra virgin olive oil on the counter and use it to coat pans when making omelets, sauted vegetables, when baking, or making a sauce. A sprinkle of olive oil makes a simple salad dressing, and a little oil can be used for dipping bread, instead of butter. We believe that a little olive oil can be beneficial for overall health and effective weight loss.

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