Dr Dingle's Blog

Cholesterol is good for you

Cholesterol is good for you

Not only is cholesterol not the enemy, but also it is essential to good health and wellbeing. Every cell in the body needs cholesterol in its membrane, where cholesterol plays a critical role in cell communication. Without cholesterol, cell membranes are incomplete and, as a result, their functional role deteriorates. Cholesterol is also used in the mitochondria of the cell and plays a vital role in cell energy production—not to mention its essential role in the brain structure and function. Cholesterol is the starting material of many essential chemicals including vitamin D, steroid hormones and the bile acids necessary for digestion.

For major drug companies, convincing the public that lower cholesterol levels equal good health is a marketing scheme. The goal of these companies is not your good health; it’s their profits. This “marketing messaging” has gone too far, especially considering that recent studies show that cholesterol may have protective properties against cancer.

Cholesterol is the most abundant organic molecule in the brain which contains almost a quarter of the unesterified cholesterol present in the entire body. In 2001, in groundbreaking research and with media fanfare, cholesterol was identified as the synaptogenic factor that is responsible for the development of synapses, the connections in the brain. The glial cells of the central nervous system that perform the housekeeping functions in the brain produce their own cholesterol for the specific purpose of providing nerve cells with the vital component required for synapse function. Cholesterol is also required for the function of serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical in our brain that makes us feel happy. Low cholesterol level has been associated with mortality due to suicides and accidental deaths

A thirty-year study published in 1987 provides evidence that elevated cholesterol in people over the age of 50 does not increase the risk of heart attack. Cholesterol levels of people free of coronary heart disease (CHD) and cancer were measured; the study found that there was no increase in death rate in those with high cholesterol. Research on the effects of cholesterol levels and age shows that high cholesterol levels in people over the age of 75 are protective, not harmful. A separate study published in the European Heart Journal (1997) found that the risk of cardiac death was the same in groups of people with low or normal cholesterol levels as those with high cholesterol.

Maybe we need to rethink the billions of dollars we spend each year on drugs that lower cholesterol and spend the money on the real risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease: our lifestyles and choices, including nutritional and environmental factors that increase inflammation.

Stay tuned because there is more to come over the next weeks.

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Cholesterol: It’s Not the Killer

Cholesterol: It’s Not the Killer

Since the advent of cholesterol lowering drugs cholesterol has become “public enemy number one” and has taken nearly all the blame for the increase in CVD. Unfortunately this has led to a lot of misinformation and misdirection in treating the real illness of CVD and its causes.

The current ideology is far from the truth and can be dangerous—particularly since the overwhelming current evidence points to CVD as a result of poor lifestyle and dietary choices that lead to inflammation. In reality, CVD is now recognized as a disease of low-grade chronic inflammation of the vascular lining and an inappropriate wound healing of blood vessels. There is now extensive and growing evidence that inflammation is central to all stages of this disease, from the initial lesion to end-stage thrombotic complications. CVD is not a disease of cholesterol or even cholesterol accumulation.

Cholesterol is associated with the risk of CVD but it is not the disease. The cholesterol levels measured at the doctor’s office and in most studies are blood cholesterol levels and are representative of liver function . Cholesterol is a symptom of an underlying health problem. It predicts less than 35% of cardiovascular disease.  The only reason we try to get it down is because a drug company can make money selling drugs.

Along with other signalling molecules, insulin controls the packaging of cholesterol and triglycerides into LDL (low-density lipoproteins), VLDL (very low-density lipoproteins), HDL (high-density lipoproteins) and other lipoproteins. Glucagon (a hormone secreted by the pancreas) inhibits the enzyme and insulin activates the enzyme. To control cholesterol production, you want to increase glucagon and decrease insulin. That is, consume only low GI foods.

There is also strong evidence that stress increases a person’s inflammatory markers and cholesterol. One possibility may be that stress encourages the body to produce more energy in the form of metabolic fuels—fatty acids and glucose.

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11 things to add to your life to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

11 things to add to your life to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke

Eat more vegetables and fruit and extra raw vegetables (salad and smoothie)

Eat more nuts and beans

Supplement with omega 3, vitamin C, B, antioxidants like grape seed extract and marine pine bark, coq10, alpha lipoic acid and minerals.

Drink more water

Move more and become more physically active. Just walk a little more

Stand more and sit less

Socialise with positive friends and groups in your spare time instead of watching television

Go to bed earlier and get more sleep

Minimize stress and learn to relax (without drugs and alcohol)

Meditate

Develop and attitude of gratitude and enjoy life more

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Australians are getting fatter and more obese and the young ones are getting it worse.

Australians are getting fatter and more obese and the young ones are getting it worse.

New modelling predicts 35 per cent of adults will be obese by 2025, with younger people now gaining weight at higher rates than ever before. The modelling out of University of Sydney predicts one in three adults will be classified as obese by 2025. But young Australian adults gaining more weight than they were in previous generations and women will fare worse, with one in six predicted to be severely obese
It forecasts obesity among adults will reach 35 per cent by 2025, up from its current level of 28 per cent, while 13 per cent of adults will have a BMI of over 35 — up from 9 per cent in 2014/15.
Currently severe obesity is about 11 per cent in women and 8 per cent in men, and our projections are showing that will go up to about 15.5 per cent in women and 10 per cent in men.
It is time we took action as individuals and took responsibility for ourselves.
However the Australian government with the food pyramid and food guidelines including the recent food star rating are the single biggest cause. The star rating program rates many sugary, processed foods as high as vegetables and fruit.
http://sydney.edu.au/news-opinion/news/2016/09/29/severity-of-obesity-to-worsen-in-australia.html
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Men eat too much meat.

Men eat too much meat.

Men eat 57% more meat, more starchy-vegetables and less green vegetables than women. According to the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey there is a big gender gap for eating habits. It appears meat is seen as more “manly”. Other misconceptions are plant based diets don’t have taste and of course the old one that they don’t have enough protein. While there are many misconceptions over meat and protein USA males consume about twice as much protein as they need to. There are also many top male athletes, sportsmen and bodybuilders who are vegetarian or vegan showing that the manly myth of meat just does not hold.

Interestingly while meat is associated with a number of health issues including prostate problems and cancer the lack of green vegetables and nutrient dense plant based foods is the major cause of high blood pressure and the associated erectile dysfunction. Erectile function is probably the most important personal display of manhood. So much for meat being a mans food. In fact to be manly you need to consume more vegetables just like mum used to tell us.

 

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Study shows how to reduce exposure to Personal care toxins in adolescent girls

Study shows how to reduce exposure to Personal care toxins in adolescent girls

A study released this week in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives showed that using personal care products without toxic endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) for 3 days dramatically reduces exposure levels in girls. These chemicals have been linked with many health disorders including a recent findings showing a very strong link with breast cancer in human and animal studies. Malignant breast tumors are the leading cause of cancer in women worldwide in terms of incidence and mortality.

Cosmetics, fragrances, and other personal care products are a possible source of human exposure to potentially endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as phthalates, parabens, and phenols especially for woman and adolescent girls. Women are the primary consumers of many personal care products, they are disproportionately exposed to these chemicals. Adolescent girls may be at particular risk of exposure through this route. For example, one small study found that the average adult woman uses approximately 12 individual personal care products each day, whereas the average teenage girl uses 17. Personal care products are a source of exposure to potentially endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and benzophenone-3 (BP-3) for adolescent girls.

Personal care product use is widespread, and human exposure to these chemicals is nearly ubiquitous, with mono-ester phthalate metabolites of DEP, DnBP, and DiBP detected in the urine of more than 96% of Americans. Methyl and propyl parabens were found in more than 90% of individuals, BP-3 in 97%, and triclosan in 75%

The three phthalates most commonly used in personal care products are diethyl phthalate (DEP), which is found in scented products, including perfumes, deodorants, soaps, and shampoo; and di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), which are used in nail polish and cosmetics. The parabens commonly used in personal care products include methyl, ethyl, butyl, and propyl paraben, which are used as preservatives and antibacterial agents in cosmetics. Two phenols are also commonly used in personal care products. Triclosan is an antimicrobial compound used in liquid soaps, acne cream, deodorants, shaving cream, and certain toothpastes. Benzophenone-3 (BP-3), also known as oxybenzone, is used in sunscreens, lip balm, and other sun protection products.

In a study of 100 Latina girls using personal care products that did not contain these chemicals for just 3 days significantly lowered their urinary concentrations of the chemicals. Urine samples were analyzed for phthalate metabolites, parabens, triclosan, and BP-3. The study found most of the EDC’s were significantly lowered after 3 days but not all. Urinary concentrations of mono-ethyl phthalate (MEP) decreased by 27.4% on average over the 3-day intervention but no significant changes were seen in urinary concentrations of mono-n-butyl phthalate (MnBP) and mono-isobutyl phthalate (MiBP). Methyl and propyl paraben concentrations decreased by 43.9% and 45.4% respectively. Unexpectedly, concentrations of ethyl and butyl paraben concentrations increased, although concentrations were low overall and not detected in almost half the samples. Triclosan concentrations decreased by 35.7% and BP-3 concentrations decreased by 36.0%.

This study demonstrates that choosing personal care products that are labeled to be free of phthalates, parabens, triclosan, and BP-3, can reduce personal exposure to possible endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Source

Kim G. Harley,et al 2016. Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1510514. Reducing Phthalate, Paraben, and Phenol Exposure from Personal Care Products in Adolescent Girls: Findings from the HERMOSA Intervention Study.

http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/EHP157/

http://www.drdingle.com/collections/book-sales/products/copy-of-dangerous-beauty-paperback

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Salt Myth

Despite the public outcries to reduce salt the research is not so clear. In fact in support of what I have ben writing for many years now another very large study says that at best salt only leads to a small reduction in blood pressure and reduction in heart disease in hypertensive individuals. However, this lower risk is outweighed by individuals lowering salt below the average which increases the increase the risk of cardiovascular events and death.

While there is controversy in the relationship between consuming less salt and lowering blood pressure levels the message for everyone to lower blood pressure may be doing more harm than good.

The latest study found that a low-salt diet only modestly reduces blood pressure. However, the authors asked asked a more important question “The key question is not whether blood pressure is lower with very low salt intake, instead it is whether it improves health”.

The meta analysis looked at the health of around 133 118 individuals from 49 countries and found benefits for everyone, even those with higher blood pressure. It appears that everyone benefits from eating an average amount of salt, even including people with high blood pressure. This equates to around 3.5 to 4 grams.

Salt protects us from heart attack, stroke and death from heart disease, as previous studies have already found. It’s only an issue for people with high blood pressure who are eating around 6 grams of salt every day, and this represents less than 10 per cent of the population.

The small increases in systolic blood pressure in individuals with hypertension was 2·08 mm Hg change per g sodium increase compared with individuals without hypertension 1·22 mm Hg change per g.

Despite this in those individuals without hypertension, compared with 4–5 g/day higher sodium excretion was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death of the population without hypertension. Whereas a low salt consumption (an excretion of less than 3 g/day) was associated with a significantly increased (11%) risk of cardiovascular events and death of the population without hypertension.

While a high sodium intake may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events and death in hypertensive populations (no association in normotensive population), the association of low sodium intake with increased risk of cardiovascular events and death is observed in those with or without hypertension. These data suggest that lowering sodium intake to an average levels of around 4–5 g/day is best targeted at populations with hypertension who consume high sodium diets.

This study turns on it head the common strategy of demonizing something like salt and making it the public enemy number 1. Therefore lowering it is good, without even looking at the health outcomes. The same occurs for cholesterol, another public enemy number 1. The statin drugs are very good at lowering cholesterol but they don’t prevent heart attacks.

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Low selenium linked with liver cancer (any many other conditions).

Low levels of selenium are reported throughout many countries including Australia where deficiencies are widespread. Some estimates put low selenium levels at around about 80% of the Australian population due to the low concentration of selenium in Australian soils

A recent study of over 520000 people confirmed what is already known that low selenium is a risk factor for liver cancer. Higher selenium was associated with around 60% reduction in liver cancer. Given that liver cancer is on the increase and likely to be even higher with the dramatic rise in fatty liver. Eating food rich in selenium and supplementing with selenium is a simple preventative strategy.

Selenium is a mineral that has an antioxidant, alkalising and anti inflammatory effect. Selenium can increase the antioxidant levels in normal cells, and helps repair

damage to DNA. A large amount of research has also shown selenium to beneficial in and number of cancers including prostate and skin cancer (in addition to the latest studies on liver cancer), in AIDS symptoms, male fertility, skin disorders, anxiety and asthma (Bates et at 2002). While low levels have been associated with increses in metabolic syndrome and chronic inflammation, an underlying condition behind all chronic illness

While supplementing is important consuming only two Brazil nuts every day can raise blood selenium levels by about 65 %.

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Bringing the nutrients back into our food, Nutrient Density

Bringing the nutrients back into our food, Nutrient Density

In the beginning there were healthy, whole foods packed full of nutrients. Today half the world is plagued by starvation and the other half from too much nutrient-depleted, calorie dense food. Times have changed and so must the way we look at food, nutrition and our health.

The modern day processed “white foods” such as sugar, bread, white rice, seed-“vegetable” oils and processed breakfast foods are full of empty calories and low in nutritional value. Unfortunately these foods now make up a large portion of the average Western diet. Meanwhile, most people rarely consume there required intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and other nutritious food. When they do consume vegetables, often it is in the form of over-processed potatoes without the nutrient-dense peel, and deep fried in “cholesterol and saturated fat free over processed vegetable oils”. The average American, British or Australian eats only one or two vegetables serves per day, a couple of pieces of fruit and a lot of over-processed and nutrient-depleted foods. These nutrient-depleted foods often require nutrients in order to be digested, absorbed, utilised and eliminated from the body. The cost of this may actually deplete the body of nutrients rather than providing them.

It is generally recognised that our bodies require some 90 essential nutrients which include:

16 vitamins;

12 amino acids;

3 essential fatty acids; and

20 or so minerals or trace elements.

As well as a growing list of phytonutrients such as antioxidants.

Rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, cardio-vascular disease cancer and other chronic illnesses continue to be linked to a growing consumption of refined grains, added sugars and “empty calories”, as well as a major nutritional deficiencies. Refined grains, processed vegetable fats, and sweets are inexpensive, palatable, and convenient. However, they can also be energy-dense and are low in vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. The World Health Organization has found sufficient evidence to link high consumption of energy-dense foods to the global obesity epidemic and chronic illness.

Concerns that the standard Australian/American diet (SAD) has become energy-rich but nutrient-poor have been expressed for many decades now. Unfortunately, the food industry has consistently slowed positive change and confused the situation even more. Claims like “low fat”, no “added sugar” or “protein enriched” are just perplexing the situation more and causing long term harm. We now know that saturated fat, salt and cholesterol in food is not so bad for us and definitely not the demon it is made out to be by dietetic organizations who derive large sums of money from the sugar and vegetable oil industry. For example, eating foods with cholesterol is not bad for you according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) of the US Government. So it is not bad to eat eggs, particularly given that they are relatively nutrient dense and they are much better for you than cereal breakfast foods. Protein enriched breakfast foods also translates to added gluten, the protein linked with gut conditions including celiacs disease. Just recently the sugar industry has been discovered subverting policies to restrict sugar consumption by blocking information linking sugar with tooth decay over many decades. The sugar industry is now attacking the World Health Organisation who want to lower the recommended sugar consumption by even more.

Calorie counting is another example of a distraction from nutrition. Most of the diet programs count calories and barely even touch on nutrition. This is the root cause of why these program don’t work. People make judgments on the foods they eat based on calories, “low fat” or “no cholesterol” rather than eating healthy nutritious foods. Having tunnel vision and simply focusing on these issues at the cost of giving consideration to any of the other food issues is absolutely wrong and will never have a positive effect on your health and wellbeing. Simply counting the calories and balancing it with your exercise is a sure way of developing nutritional deficiency and illness that goes with it. The trick is to choose foods with high nutrient density that fill both needs at the same time. Whole foods tend to have the most nutrients for their calories.

Attempts to translate dietary guidelines into practice, as formulated by professional associations and expert panels have also tended to focus on the negative. In many cases, healthy foods are defined by the absence of problematic ingredients like fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium, rather than by the presence of any beneficial nutrients they might contain. In the UK the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute defined healthy foods by low amounts of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium per serving. The definition of healthy foods adopted by the American Heart Association was also based on the virtual absence of fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and on a low sodium content per serving. The demonization of these ingredients has occurred at the expense of more sugar and processed omega 6 fats being added. Both which are inflammatory and linked with many forms of chronic illness. Processed fats and sugary foods don't have the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that your body needs to be healthy. That's why we call these calories empty. “The World Health Organization has cautioned against the excessive consumption of energy-dense foods, notably those high in sugar and fat.

The National Cancer Institute included in its former definition of healthy foods all fruits and vegetables in their natural form, with the exception of avocados, nuts, olives, and coconut. The exclusion of avocados, now rescinded, and was based purely on fat content and did not take the beneficial nutrients in avocados into account. But going against any common sense and science they still restrict nuts and coconuts. The research on avocados, nuts and coconuts is overwhelmingly positive. It seems these professional guidelines are just opinions.

The key to optimizing your health and achieving your ideal body weight is to eat predominantly those foods that have a relatively high proportion of nutrients (non-calorie food factors) to calories (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). Adequate consumption of micronutrients—vitamins, minerals, and many other phytochemicals—without excessive calorie intake, is the key to achieving excellent health and weight loss. The nutrient density in your body’s tissue is proportional to the nutrient density of your diet. Dietary guidelines now recommend that consumers replace some foods in their diets with more nutrient-dense options.

Unlike food labels which list only a few nutrients, nutrient density scores are based on many more important nutritional parameters. Nutrient density refers to how many nutrients you can obtain from food, given the number of calories it contains. Similar to the way energy density focuses on calories per serving, nutrient density is a simple way to highlight the link between nutrient content and calorie count. Foods that are nutritionally dense provide the most nutrients for the fewest number of calories. Any systematic nutrient dense score should include fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, vitamin A, beta carotene, alpha carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, vitamin C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, choline, vitamin K, Omega 3 and 9 fatty acids as well as other phytonutrients and antioxidants as a percentage of their Dietary Reference Intake (DRI).

Not surprisingly the most nutrient dense foods tend to be plant foods, in particular leafy green vegetables. Also, because phytochemicals (plant based chemicals) are largely unnamed and unmeasured, these rankings may underestimate the healthful properties of colorful, natural, plant foods. The nutrient density of natural whole foods may be even higher. Nutrient density scores demonstrates the nutritional power of green vegetables, particularly compared to processed foods and animal products. Even though attention should be placed on these nutrient rich foods, it is also important to achieve micronutrient diversity.

While there are many challenges associated with nutrient density, it is by far the best indicator of the nutrient base of foods. In reality the energy density of foods is not always determined by their sugar and fat contents. Often, energy-dense foods are simply those foods that are dry. Water, which provides weight but no calories, influences the energy density of foods more than any macronutrient, including fat. Examples of dry energy-dense foods are potato chips, whole grains and cereals. In contrast, fruit, vegetables, and milk are energy-dilute. Although the overall inverse relation between energy density and nutrient density may hold, not all energy-dense foods are necessarily nutrient-poor or vice versa.

The automatic assignment of all energy-dense foods into the “bad” category seems arbitrary and is not based on any particular metric or scale. Furthermore, what can be included in the nutrient density scores is only what is currently available from various databases. For example at present it is limited in antioxidant data.

For maximum effectiveness, nutrient density models need to be transparent, based on publicly accessible nutrient composition data, and validated against independent measures of a healthy diet and should be based on 100 kcal and serving sizes performed better than those based on 100 g.

Nutrient density also has the advantage of shifting attention from diets back to foods and people don’t need a calculator or an advanced degree in math or nutrition to calculate what constitutes a healthy diet.

 

 

 

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Olive oil. The good oil

Olive oil. The good oil

A liberal sprinkle of olive oil on your food may be good for your health and even help with weight loss. Over the past decade there has been increasing interest in the health benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. With rates of chronic disease, such as cancer and heart disease, increasing in western societies, rates have remained relatively low in Mediterranean regions. Many studies attribute this to a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, fresh fish, low processed food, vegetable fats and lots of olive oil.

 

Many of the beneficial effects on human health were originally thought to be the high concentrations of monounsaturated (omega 9) fatty acids, in particular oleic acid, was considered as the major healthful characteristic of virgin olive oil. Unlike saturated and omega 6 fats these don’t compete with the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. However, more recent research has shone light on some of the minor ingredients particularly oleuropein (OL) and hydroxytyrosol (HT). There are more than 200 ‘minor components’ in the olive oil, which represent about 2% of the total weight. As a group these are called phenolic compounds (PC) and are found in many sources, however “extra virgin” olive oil, contains among the others, some peculiar phenolic compounds which are not present in other oils and in other foods. The concentration of these PC in olive oil is extremely variable from a few mg/kg up to 800 mg/kg and depend upon different growing and technological aspects of olive oil production 1 and if it is really virgin olive oil. These antioxidant phenolic alcohols also contribute to the long oil shelf-life and influence characteristics including smell and taste (e.g. bitter, astringent, pungent, throat-catching) and color 2. Numerous benefits of these olive oil PC have been shown with cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological diseases, cancer and much more. Truly a health product to add to your daily meals.

When used with vegetables the oils increase the absorption of important antioxidants such as lycopene, the red colour found in tomatoes. Research has found that the way food is cooked can make an enormous difference, especially if it's the colour red. 25 mls of olive oil used in the cooking of about half a kilogram of tomatoes per day, is enough to significantly increase in lycopene levels in plasma by the end of five days compared to just tomatoes alone. When cooking tomato sauce the traditional way in oil the lycopene's leaches out from the tomatoes into the oil because it's very fat soluble. Lycopene protects men from prostate cancer 3.

Olive oils have been found to have particularly high levels of anti-oxidants and anti inflammatory phenolic compounds (PC) and regular consumption of olive oils containing phenols, has the ability to reduce oxidative stress even in those consuming low-antioxidant diets. In one study an increase in olive oil intake resulted in a dose-dependent reduction in oxidative stress and inflammation 4. The most bioactive of these compounds are OL and HT which are released from the olive fruit during the extraction process. In particular, OL is abundant in high amounts in unprocessed olive leaves and fruit, while higher concentration of HT may be found in the fruit and in olive oil 5.

The antioxidant activity of OL and HT which have a high level of bioavailabilty 6 and human studies show that a large proportion of ingested olive oil phenols were absorbed, mainly in the small intestine 7. OL and HT are so effective as they have multiple antioxidant activities. They act as free radical scavengers and radical chain breaking; anti-oxygen radicals; and metal chelators. HT also induces simultaneously both phase II detoxifying enzymes (a set of important enzymes for protecting against oxidative damage) and mitochondrial biogenesis, two critical pathways occurring in the fight against oxidative stress. OL and HT stimulate Nrf2 which increase our body’s own production of antioxidants where they are really needed. This is one of the major reasons they are so beneficial for people with diabetes type 2.

One of the more critical properties of these phenolic compounds is that they may prevent the formation of atherosclerotic plaque, known to cause heart disease or atherosclerosis 8. The olive oil extracts inhibit the oxidation of LDL’s 9. As we have discussed many times in the past LDL cholesterol is not the problem but it becomes a problem when it is oxidized as it is no longer able to fulfil its normal function. In particular, OL, in the average daily intake of olive oil or olive pieces of the Mediterranean diet, remarkably reduced (50% in average) LDL oxidation in fat rich meals (i.e. French fries). OL increased the production of certain anti-oxidative enzymes (glutathione-related enzymes) in preventing oxidation of LDL’s before plaque formation could occur in the artery. In support of this the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the equivalent of the FDA in the US and the TGA in Australia and very conservative has officially recognized the protective effects of the olive oil phenolic compounds 10.

Studies in both rabbits and rats have also shown OL has multiple other cardio-protective effects to do with deterioration of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) 11. Other interesting properties of olive derivatives including oleanolic acid, ursolic acid and uvaol have shown significant cardiovascular benefits.

In the early 90s scientists first suggested a protective role of OL extracted by olive leaves 12 on diabetes and managing blood sugar. Subsequent studies found a strong link of the anti-diabetic action with the antioxidant effects of OL particularly lowering of blood sugar (hypoglycemic) 13. In diabetic mice, HT significantly decreased fasting glucose, and blood serum levels, the latter effects obtained when treatment with the diabetes drug metformin failed 14. In human studies OL and HT have also been shown to improve insulin action and production in overweight middle-aged men at risk of developing metabolic syndrome (51.1 mg OL, 9.7 mg HT for day). This effect was comparable to that seen with drugs used to treat diabetes 15.

Major epidemiological studies have reported that uptake of olive oil is associated with a reduced risk of cancer in different organs. A meta-analysis published in 2011 summarized the results of 19 studies with 13,800 patients and 23,340 controls showed that high olive oil consumption was associated with a 36% lower risk of developing cancer in breast and a 30% lower risk of developing cancer of the digestive system 16. Both OL and HT have displayed multiple protective effects against cancer, mainly dependent on their antioxidant activity. Although at higher doses, OL and HT may exert pro-oxidant activity 17 responsible for stopping the spread of cancer cells. Olive oil phenols have been shown to inhibit both initiation and promotion/progression phases of cancer development. Among other studies, OL has been shown to inhibit tumor growth and metastases (spreading) human breast cancer transplanted into mice 18. While another compound in olive oil Oleic Acid has been shown to reduce the level of a gene by up to 46% that stimulates cancer cell growth and which occurs in more than 20% of breast cancer patients.

By acting against oxidation and inflammation HT, OL and some of the other derivatives have also been shown to be effective in age-related disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases 19. Supplementation with an olive extract decreased pain and inflammation, and improved the quality of life of people suffering from arthritis. In addition, other studies have shown to lower inflammation-induced bone loss (osteopenia) in rats and found that bone loss was reduced as a result of supplementation 20. HT has also been shown to protect against macular degeneration associated with age-associated macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of legal blindness for people over 55 years of age in the Western world 21.

Many studies have reported the protective properties of OL and HT against both bacteria and viral infections 22. Research shows OL to have anti-viral properties including inhibiting HIV-infection and replication 23.

Unfortunately, much of the so-called olive oil sold in stores today is not actually olive oil, but rather a deceptive blend of inferior oils that may or may not include traces of actual olive oil. Both overseas consumer reports and studies have shown as much as 50 percent or more of all the olive oil sold commercially does not pass the stringent testing standards used to qualify the authenticity of real olive oil. Many high-volume, olive oils coming out of Italy and Spain have been shown to contain various blends of other oils and a report in the LA times showed that as much as 69% of imported European olive oil wasn't what it claimed to be. That is why you should by local “Australian” extra virgin olive oil only. It may cost a bit more but you know what you are getting and it is good.

When Hippocrates said “let food be thy medicine”, I have no doubt he was talking about olive oil so add lots more extra virgin olive oil to your food. Try olive oil from the bottle as a substitute for butter. You can apply it directly to the bread, or drizzle it over the salad on your rye bread sandwich.

Mixed with good quality vinegar it becomes a superfood. but more on that later

Some olive oil hints

  • Only buy oils in a dark glass bottles.
  • Only buy local (Australian) extra virgin olive oil
  • Store oils in the fridge or dark, cool places. If heat and sunlight break them down, they’ll form free radicals that damage your body.
  • Heating oil makes even the best oil toxic. Cooking with oil destroys many of its nutritional components and causes other toxic components to form. So add oils at the last minute to avoid heating them for too long.
  • Cold pressed oils have higher levels of nutrients and toxins are not added or formed during the extraction process.
  • Don't worry about colour. Good oils come in all shades, from green to gold to pale straw.
  • Ensure that your oil is labelled "extra virgin," since other categories—"pure" or "light" oil, "olive oil" and "olive pomace oil" – have undergone chemical refinement.
  • Don’t buy olive oil in a spray can

 

Acknowledgements

Tegan Dixon

References

  1. Servili et al. (2009)
  2. Morello et al 2004
  3. Fielding et al. 2005
  4. Visioli et al 2000
  5. Morello et al 2004
  6. Cicerale et al 2012
  7. Vissers et al 2002
  8. Masella et al 2004
  9. Nikolas et al 2002
  10. EFSA J. 2009
  11. Andreadou 2006
  12. Gonzalez et al 1992
  13. Al-Azzawie HF, Alhamdani. 2006
  14. Cao et al 2014
  15. de Bock et al 2013
  16. Psaltopoulou et al. 2011
  17. Fabiani et al 2009
  18. Sepporta et al. 2014
  19. Omar 2010
  20. Clinical Nutrition 2006
  21. Liu et al 2007
  22. Sudjana 2009
  23. Lee-Huang et al 2003.

 

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