encyclopedia

Olive Oil

Scientific Names:
Olea europea L. [Fam. Oleaceae]

Forms:
Organic olive oil, cold-pressed

Traditional Usage:
– Antinflammatory

– Blood Sugar Balancing

– Blood Thinning

– Bone and Joint Problems

– Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) Deficiency

– Lowering LDL Cholesterol

– Vascular Disease

– Wrinkles

Overview:
The cultivated olive, Olea europea L. [Fam. Oleaceae], is widespread in Eurasia and is one of about 20 species in the genus Olea. Fresh, ripe olives contain about 20 percent oil. Olive oil is most noted for it’s heart-smart value as an important component of the Mediterranean diet that prevents vascular disease. Being very rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated ‘omega-9’ fatty acid, olive oil is resistant to the formation of trans fatty acids and other free radical compounds that cause inflammation and cell damage. Olive oil also lowers high blood pressure. A Stanford Medical School study of seventy-six middle-aged men found that taking the equivalent of three tablespoons of olive oil daily lowered systolic pressure about nine points and diastolic pressure about six points. A study done at the University of Kentucky found that a mere two-thirds of a tablespoon of olive oil daily could do almost as well. Because eating oxidized fat triggers the release of insulin and the buildup of glucose in the blood, it is recommended that people used olive oil as the main dietary oil (or other oils rich in monosaturated fats like canola, avocados, almonds and other nuts). Consuming oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids, like corn, sunflower and safflower oils, can cause the blood to be infused with free radical peroxides. If the body doesn’t have enough antioxidants to mop them up, the radicals shut down an enzyme that metabolizes sugar and then glucose levels build up in the blood and this stimulates insulin secretion. High blood sugar and blood insulin damages the vascular system. In a clinical trial with humans, olive oil prevented these effects, whereas sunflower oil, rich in linoleic acid, did not. Olive oil, by coating the stomach, can also be used as an antidote for ammonia poisoning.

Active Ingredients:
Olive oil contains (per 100g): Vitamin E (ATE), 12.4mg; Tocopherol (alpha), 11.9mg; Lipids: Fatty acids, total saturated, 13.5g; 16_0=11.0g; 18_0=2.2g; Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 73.7g; 16_1=0.8g; oleic acid or 18_1=72.5g; 20_1=0.3g; Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated=8.4g; linoleic acid or 18_2=7.9g; linolenic acid or 18_3=0.6g; Phytosterols 221mg/100g. (National Agriculture Library’s USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference at http://www.nal.usda.gov). Another source lists Extra Virgin Olive Oil as: 14% Saturated fat; 77% monosaturated fat; 8% omega-6 fat and 1% omega-3 fat.

Suggested Amount:
Olive oil: Take a half to three tablespoons of olive oil per day or as needed based on nutrient requirements. Olive oil, rich in omega-9 fatty acids but lacking in the important omega-3 EFAs, should be taken as part of a balanced diet.

Drug Interactions:
Olive oil can effectively coat the stomach and therefore may reduce the absorption of other medications. Thus, olive oil should be taken separately from other supplements and/or medications.

Contraindications:
None known

Side Effects:
Olive oil, taken as a part of a well balanced diet, does not cause any side effects. Because olive oil is rich in omega-9 fatty acids but contains almost no omega-3 EFAs, it should be taken as part of a balanced diet.

References:

Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World’s Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. pp. 32-33; 274; 557. Rodale Press.

Carper J. 1995. Stop Aging Now. (Chapter entitled: Beware the Fat That Makes You Old; plus other information on olive oil). Harper Collins Publishing, Inc., New York, NY, p. 207-218; 284; 312.

Carper, J. 1993. Food Your Miracle Medicine. HarperCollinsPublishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, New York 10022-5299. Pp. 1-528.

Erasmus, U. 1993: Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill. Published by Alive Books, Burnaby, B.C., Canada. pp. 1-456.

Madigan C, Ryan M, Owens D, Collins P, Tomkin GH. 2000. Dietary unsaturated fatty acids in type 2 diabetes: higher levels of postprandial lipoprotein on a linoleic acid-rich sunflower oil diet compared with an oleic acid-rich olive oil diet. Diabetes Care. 2000 Oct; 23(10): 1472-7.