Olive Oil and Human Health
Virgin olive oil is a natural fruit juice that preserves the flavor, perfume, vitamins and all the properties of the fruit from which it comes, being the only vegetable oil that can be consumed directly virgin and raw.
Its caloric value is 9 calories per gram (the same proportion as any other animal or vegetable fat).
Fats are essential nutrients for our body. Its function is above all energetic. They provide the energy that allows us to develop physical and intellectual activities and are also a source of heat.
In addition to making meals more appetizing, fats have an unquestionable biological value since tissues need lipids to develop their activity. In addition, as some vitamins (A, D, E, K) are only soluble in fats, they necessarily depend on lipids to be absorbed.
Lipids are made up of fatty acids that belong to two large groups:
- Saturated fatty acids, which we find in animal fats (cheeses, meat, butter, cream) and in coconut and palm oils.
- Unsaturated fatty acids present in vegetable oils and fish, that can be sub-divided into two new groups: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated acids.
Of these fatty acids present in vegetable oils, there are two that are fundamental for human life:
Oleic acid (monounsaturated) that forms 80% of virgin olive oil, and Linoleic acid (polyunsaturated) also present in virgin olive oil that are essential for our body.
Olive Oil and Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty substance contained in animal organisms that plays an important role in vital functions.
Many hormones of our body essential for life are obtained in the human body from cholesterol.
Fats and cholesterol, to be transported by blood, colligate with proteins forming molecular associations called lipoproteins:
- Low density lipoprotein LDL ("bad cholesterol")
- High density lipoprotein HDL ("good cholesterol")
The "bad cholesterol" (LDL) settles on the internal walls of the arteries forming atheroma plaques, narrowing them and becoming a risk factor of atherosclerosis, which is a form of arteriosclerosis, with the implied risk for cardiovascular diseases.
Virgin olive oil, due to the amount of oleic acid it contains, is considered an exemplary fat. Oleic acid increases the "good cholesterol" (HDL) that plays a protective role, since it transports the "bad cholesterol" (deposited in the arteries) to the liver for elimination, reducing the risks of arterial thrombosis and heart attack.
In brief, the beneficial effects of virgin olive oil to the organism are:
- Circulatory system: helps us prevent arteriosclerosis and its risks.
- Digestive system: helps improve stomach and pancreatic function.
- Skin: it has a protective and tonic effect of the epidermis.
- Endocrine system: helps improve our metabolic functions.
- Bone system: stimulates growth and helps calcium absorption and mineralization.
Virgin olive oil is highly recommended for children and the elderly due to its vitamin E (antioxidant effect) content.