By Alessandro Rossi, Latina LILT President

The extra virgin olive oil is the only oil in the Mediterranean diet representing his story, his traditions and his culture. It’s the only oil obtained from the olives’ mechanical pressing by cooling without any additive for which his nutritional components keep whole for months. His healing and nutritional properties (today well represented by the word nutraceutical) are been demonstrated by a lot of scientific studies: it is full of antioxidants, like the vitamin E, the vitamin A, the oleic acid, polyphenols, and substances to which are bestowed antineoplastic capacities, like the oleocanthal. Moreover it’s accredited to present essential and indispensable fats that the organism is not able to synthesise himself and it is an ideal support for the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K. These characteristics make the extra virgin oil a valuable ally for our health. The results of a systematic analysis of the most important scientific studies published about the argument have demonstrated that people who consumed an important quantity of extra virgin olive oil presented a lesser degree of risk to develop a neoplasia, in particular the breast and digestive system cancer.

Other evidence indicate how this food give an important contribution to reduce other cancer types. In the last few years, many studies and researches confirm the experimental results of biological mechanism with the different elements contained into the extra virgin olive oil able to realise a protective anticancer action. We are talking about the free phenols and those combined like the lignans, the secoiridoids, the squalene etc. During some experiments on breast cancer’s cell lines, the oleic acid has been shown able to reduce notably the oncogene Her-2/neu(c-erb B-2) level, a protein essential for the cancer development, hyper expressed into the 20-25% of the breast neoplasia and predictive of a worst prognosis. Recently was been affirmed that the extra virgin olive oil increase in the blood the bio-availability of other elements whit a preventive potential. For example, the concentration of lycopene in the blood, of which are rich the tomatoes, increase drastically after the tomato’s cooking with extra virgin olive oil. Moreover the plasma’s antioxidant ability increases if the tomato was been prepared with extra virgin olive oil than other oils.

If we substitute it with trans fats, of which is reach the extra virgin olive oil, just the 5% of the total calories introduced in the form of saturated fats, we could register a reduction of 33% of the breast cancer risk, of 22% of the colorectal cancer and other aerodigestive upper tract cancer (oropharynx, larynx, esophagus). The beneficial effects carry out in every system of our organism. It protects from the cardiovascular diseases because the polyphenols in it promotes a bigger production of nitrous, powerful vasodilator, and prevent the oxidation by LDL lipoproteins. The oxidised LDL, in fact, represent the main responsible of the atherosclerotic plaque formation with the consequent arteries shrinkage and the cardiac diseases onset. It has a positive action into the nervous system’s development: its lipid composition is similar to that of mother’s milk, making it an essential food for the child diet. In adulthood, it preserves from the diseases of mental slowdown and the brain function’s deterioration, like Parkinson and Alzheimer. That’s thanks to the antioxidant action of oleic acid, of polyphenols and tocopherol (vit. E).

These diseases give an important role to the presence of free radicals that, binding to essential components of nervous cell, modify its structure and promote its degeneration. A recent study realised by the University of Chicago has discovered that oleocanthal interferes with the neurotoxic protein’s action implicated in the Alzheimer’s disease. The extra virgin olive oil is the most digestible and the most healthy among the fats and it has a beneficial effect on all the gastrointestinal system, protecting his mucosa. In fact, the oleic acid reduces the production of hydrochloric acid and prevents gastritis and ulcers. Moreover, it speeds up the intestinal tract’s transit promoting the regularity. It promotes the bilious flow and the gallbladder’s emptying activation, hampering gallstones onset. It represents an essential element for the patients with diabetes mellitus, because it reduces the sugars’ levels in the blood and the resistance to the typical insulin of this condition. It has a beneficial effect on our osteoarticular sisyem: the extra virgin olive oil facilitates the vitamin D’s assimilation and fights the osteoporosis.

Moreover, thanks to the powerful action anti-inflammatory and antioxidant developed by the oleocanthal, it is an efficient therapeutic ally against the arthrosis. It protects from the different pathological cutaneous diseases, like the psoriasis, acne, atopic dermatitis and other eczema’s types. The scientific research has demonstrated how the squalene, present in the olive oil, has antioxidant properties against the solar radiations, decreasing the production of free radicals on top of the exposed skin. Finally, the extra virgin olive oil is particularly indicated during the pregnancy, thanks to its optimal ratio among polyunsaturates, saturates and monosatures fats (linoleic, linolelic and oleic acid) and the capability to assure a good vitamin fat-soluble ratio (A, D, E, K), to stimulate the bone’s mineralisation and to prevent the unborn child’s haemorrhage risk. Protecting the gastric mucosa, it prevents the reflux oesophagitis, particularly frequent during the last trimester. It can contribute to prevent the common metabolic disturbances, like gestational diabetes and the constipation. We prefer the young oils because they keep intact all those healthy properties and we pay a particular attention for the craft oils.