Properties of food: Extra virgin olive oil.
January 29, 2013

Extra virgin olive oil is essential and typical of the Mediterranean diet, also from the nutritional point of view, for the characteristics of its chemical composition, extra virgin olive oil is considered a food of high quality.

The Ce Reg 1531/2001 of the Council of 23 July 2001, establishes the descriptions and definitions of olive oils and olive-pomace oils, in force since 1 November 2003.

They are obtained only by pressing the olives.
Obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions that do not lead to alterations in the oil, which have not undergone any treatment other than washing, decantation, centrifugation or filtration, to the exclusion of oils obtained using solvents or using adjuvants having a chemical or biochemical action, or re-esterification processes and of any mixture with oils of other kinds.

Virgin olive oils are exclusively classified and denominations that follow:

  • Extra virgin olive oil, having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid of not more than 0.8 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category; Free acidity max 0.8%
  • Virgin olive oil, having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid of not more than 2 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category; Free acidity max 2.0%
  • Virgin olive oil shining, having a free acidity, expressed as oleic acid, greater than 2 grams per 100 grams and its other characteristics correspond to those fixed for this category. Free acidity is more than 2.0%.

With these clarifications due, we come to its many advantages.

  • Extra virgin olive oil is concerned halfway between food and medicine, it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as essential fatty acids, which are contained in optimal proportions (similar to those of breast milk).
  • Extra virgin olive oil raw = no contraindication.
  • Rich in Vitamin E, A, K, and D protective powerful antioxidants and their effect on our cells.
  • It is easily metabolizable and limits the processes of plasma cholesterol biosynthesis reducing the cholesterol “bad” LDL cholesterol and increasing “good” HDL; promotes pancreatic secretion.
  • On the contrary seed oil, and extra virgin olive oil prevails over oleic acid and monounsaturated fatty acid.

From a nutritional point of view this is a matter of primary importance because unlike the polyunsaturated fatty acids present in seed oils, oleic acid protects membrane lipids from oxidation and thus decreases the risk of oncogenic and coronary, l ‘ exposure to inflammatory diseases, arteriosclerosis, the liver, the biliary lithiasis and slows cell ageing.

It is very useful for the elderly, in atonic constipation, and bone mineralization, thus helping to correct osteoporosis.

It’s also useful:

  • in the prevention of gastroduodenal ulcers;
  • in the stimulation of the exocrine secretion of the pancreas;
  • in promoting bile secretion and emptying of the gallbladder;
  • in facilitating the digestion and absorption of fats and protein foods;
  • in activating the intestinal peristalsis;
  • in promoting the excretion of bile salts and cholesterol in the liver and their removal from the small intestine.
  • A teaspoon of standard sizes of Extra virgin olive oil has 45 calories, while one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil standard has 108 calories.

So it is good not to overdose salads or other dishes, letu2019s say 25-30 grams daily are a good amount for women and 30-40 grams daily for men coarse constitution. Moreover, it seems to have a positive influence in preventing the formation of tumours, particularly breast cancer, and the countries that follow the Mediterranean diet can expect to live longer and better than the people of northern Europe.

  • You can get an extra virgin nutritionally perfect?
  • What is important oleic acid for the beneficial effects of olive oil?
  • And what affects the unsaponifiable instead?
  • How to get an extra virgin olive oil with a nutritional profile

Let us take stock of the research developed in the field of olive oil about human health, focusing on the role of “minor components” and also providing a basic understanding of the potential for healthy activities for olive oil quality.

  • Why do we talk so much about antioxidants?
  • Why so much talk of mono-unsaturated fatty acids?

A theory was formulated that the Mediterranean diet, rich in antioxidants and olive oil (which contains the fatty acid oleic acid – monounsaturated and hardly oxidizable) has so far been held responsible for the majority of the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet.

It is also a widespread notion that oleic acid has a favourable effect on the human lipoprotein profile, lowering the rate of LDL cholesterol (known as “bad cholesterol”).

More important, from the point of view of salutariness, are polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially those of the omega-3 series.

Termed “essential” because our body is not able to synthesize (and must be included in the diet), their amount in the Western diet is considered too low. Produce oils rich in omega 3 could bring benefits to their nutritional profile.

The unsaponifiable fraction of olive oil
In addition to its unique composition of fatty acids, olive oil from the first pressing contains various minor components that give it a special taste and aroma. This is because olive oil is the only vegetable oil obtained from the whole fruit and not only by seeds, which enables you to save all the organoleptic properties of the olives.
It is to underline the fact that the oil is u201cextra virginu201d It is much richer in phenolic compounds of refined oils, obtained by rectification of the oils to acids, which are virtually free of phenols. In short, the oils of better quality are rich in phenols (and vice versa).

The growing interest in the chemistry of natural antioxidants and the spread of the Mediterranean diet, more and more u2018popular in the USA and Japan, has stimulated the interest of various research groups in the possible effects of some antioxidant compounds that have been isolated and purified fromu2019 extra virgin olive oil. The goal is to further clarify the potential role of olive oil and its minor components in protecting the cardiovascular system.

Phenolic compounds are powerful antioxidants
There are now many published studies on the activities of antioxidant phenol olive (both in terms of extra virgin olive oil is like water vegetation). The state of research is how u2018advanced that allowed us to identify the species to which the oxidizing Olive phenols (particularly hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein) play their antioxidant activities. Many studies have also been performed in cellular systems and respect to isolated DNA.

The power of Olive phenols depends on the substrate on which they act but is often much higher than that of other known antioxidants, such as vitamin E. The activities u2018antioxidant hydroxytyrosol and secoiridoids make their use at the application level is under heavy development and there are alreadyu2019 patents in this regard.

Not only antioxidants (other activitiesu2019 biological properties of minor components of olive oil). The potential beneficial effects of phenolic compounds on human health are not confined to their antioxidant action. Have been studied for many interesting activities that may reveal new biological roles of these compounds in the prevention of certain diseases. The formation of a thrombus, for example, is favoured by excessive aggregation u2018of platelets, cells responsible to constitute the u201chemostatic plugu201d. This function is extremely useful when it is necessary to stem excessive bleeding, eg as a result of a cut, but is harmful when, inside the blood vessels, platelets aggregate and form blood clots (thrombi) that can occlude the vascular lumen preventing the passage of blood (myocardial infarction).

The phenolic compounds extracted from olive oil, and in particular hydroxytyrosol, can inhibit platelet aggregation induced by various aggregating agents. This property u2018antithrombotic is associated with reduced production of pro-inflammatory factors such as leukotrienes and thromboxane products from platelets (the first) or by cells involved in the processes of inflammation such as leukotrienes (seconds).

Other studies have also shown that oleuropein can increase the synthesis of nitric oxide, a molecule with strong bactericidal power cytostatic and, by macrophages (cells involved in the processes of the immune response). This additional activity u2018suggests that oleuropein, through the stimulation of specific enzymes, enhances the immune response elicited against bacterial attack. Finally, a study just published shows the activity u2018of neuroprotective hydroxytyrosol, both in vitro and after oral administration.
Studies on the activities u2018biological (antioxidant or not) of olive oil phenols are still ongoing and new propertiesu2019 health may be brought to light shortly.

But in a man?
The absorption of hydroxytyrosol and other phenols has been extensively studied and it has also clarified metabolism. Finally, existing on the date of the meeting about 15 studies in humans (healthy volunteers or patients), of which a dozen demonstrate the superiority of extra virgin olive oil rich in phenols from olive oil and oils compared to seeds, in terms of biological activities.

The evidence available to date has not been possible to unequivocally demonstrate the superiority u2018of extra virgin olive oil compared to other vegetable fats.
However, studies carried out so far can be seen briefly as the role of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet is probably more complex than previously thought. The health properties of olive oil, in particular dellu2019extravergine, are not limited to the contribution of oleic acid, which as described above is not lacking in other types of diets, but are connected to its phenolic component.

The use of high-quality oil makes it possible for the intake of compounds whose consumption, which is still to be studied fully in humans, has been associated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
The taste of olive oil is extra virgin high quality u2018it also allows a lower consumption thereby limiting overall caloric intake and encouraging the consumption of fresh vegetables, traditionally seasoned with extra virgin olive oil. In conclusion, it is time to recommend to the producers to seek the best quality u2018oil and consumers prefer quality oilsu2019 high allowing the inclusion in the diet of potentially healthy. Obtaining an oil with a perfect nutritional profile requires additional years of research, both agronomic and scientific, which shed light on the real or alleged properties u2018of polyphenols and fatty acids. Meanwhile, based on scientific data in our possession, it seems appropriate to recommend the use of oils with a high content of phenols (albeit expensive) as part of a varied and balanced diet.

Target molecules, chemical compounds prodigious omega3, resveratrol and gamma oryzanol.u00a0

The dream of all: to smoke, live sedentariamente, and eat and drink to excess, only to remedy everything with drugs or fortified foods.

You can get an extra virgin nutritionally perfect?
The lipid fraction and u201cminor polar compoundsu201d of virgin olive oil are the essence of the potential of this food and healthy activities are responsible for most of the beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet.

The nutritional role of extra-virgin olive oil in the diet is not limited to the contribution of oleic acid but it is also linked to the phenolic component.
Extra virgin olive oil is nutritionally perfect for the presence of:
The high content of oleic acid;
Reduced levels of saturated fat;
Wealth in polyunsaturated fatty acids (molecules is more important because they are u201cessentialu201d that should be taken with the diet;
The high concentration of the unsaponifiable fraction.

(The minor polar compounds give the oil a particular taste and aroma and health properties specified in the prevention of certain diseases.

Oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol play higher antioxidant activity of vitamin E;
oleuropein can increase the synthesis of nitric oxide, a molecule with strong bactericidal power cytostatic and, by macrophages (cells involved in the processes of the immune response).

Hydroxytyrosol can inhibit platelet aggregation induced by various aggregating agents and has been shown, both in vitro and after oral administration, specific activities neuroprotective.

It is well established that lifestyle, including the choice of foods, has a huge influence on our health and the incidence of diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease and cancer. The result is the development of a new research area on the border between pharmacology and nutrition, to identify the components of foods to which attribute, on a scientific basis, propertiesu2019 health benefits. Our studies on the phenolic compounds of extra virgin (begun in the test tube and continued on cultured cells, laboratory animals, healthy volunteers and patients in the same manner pharmacological) go in this direction: to determine whether some components of food which for thousands of years have been attributed (but never proven unequivocally) property u2018health benefits, may play a role in the prevention of diseases.

u Gamma oryzanol, rasveratrolo, omega3. All chemical compounds more or less complex whose qualities are very salutistiche propagated. Iu2019m miraculous molecule-target or was the marketing for having given this feature?

One must distinguish: for some of these molecules are quite advanced studies. For example, omega-3 fatty acids have properties cardioprotective demonstrated by several controlled clinical trials. Other molecules (resveratrol, gamma oryzanol) are missing this type of study and their activities u2018were mostlyu2019 studied u2018in Vitro, that is, in a simplified model (indispensable as a starting point in any pharmacological study, but not sufficient to attribute their businessu2019 health). From here to say that these molecules have activity u2018drugu2019 in vivo u2018, that is, in man, it runs, both for the difficultyu2019 of these studies both for their cost. It is also conceptually dangerous to isolate these compounds from a complex context of foods, diet, etc., as it is likely to move towards a perspective pharmacological piu u2018that food.

Fortified foods, oils etc vitamins. Are we all done for our health? Or they can create nutritional imbalances?
The only failure that you can u2018create comes from entrusting their health to individual u201cmolecules magicu201d instead of correcting power and style.

Foleic acid?

lowering the rate of LDL cholesterol (u201cbad cholesterolu201d).
benefits of a diet rich in oleic acid for the simultaneous reduction in the levels of saturated fat.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially omega-3 series.
u201cEssentialu201d because our body is unable to synthesize them (and must be included in the diet)

Several minor components of the unsaponifiable give nutraceutical value and special flavour and aroma oil.
This is because olive oil is the only vegetable oil obtained from the whole fruit and not only by seeds, which enables you to save all the organoleptic properties of the olives.
The average daily consumption in Mediterranean countries varies from a few kg/capita/year to ~ 15 kg/capita/year. In areas with a more u2018high consumption, the daily use of oil reaches the then 50 g / day, thus providing about 25 mg of phenol per day. This order of magnitude, calculated as the amount u2018of total flavonoids (resulting thus including apples, onions, etc..), Has been correlated with a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.
The growing interest in the chemistry of natural antioxidants and some compounds that have been isolated and purified from extra virgin olive oil. The goal is to further clarify the potential role of olive oil and its minor components in protecting the cardiovascular system.

It is now fashionable to quote a number, the content of total polyphenols in the oil, as if it were alone index and quality assurance nutraceutical and sensory top notch. The chemistry, however, some have already issued judgments. Polyphenols are a large and broad class of compounds each with its own specific

Polyphenols give the oil stability, nutritional qualities and health benefits as well as sensory characteristics.
These compounds, however, are a family of very varied and diverse. You should speak correctly of the chemical class of polyphenols. First, we have to distinguish between lipophilic phenols, tocopherols, and hydrophilic ones. The top can also be found in other oils and fats of vegetable origin while the latter is almost exclusive of extra virgin olive oil. Just because exclusive of extra virgin olive focuses our attention on their hydrophilic phenols.

Can be distinguished in the olive 7 different subfamilies: anthocyanins, flavonoids, flavones, phenolic acids, phenolic alcohols, acids and secoridoidi idrossicianimidici.

In extra virgin olive oil instead, you can find the presence of phenolic acids, phenolic alcohols, secoridoidi, lignans and flavones.
Each of the subfamilies mentioned is distinguished from the others by the chemical composition and reactivity, as well as, presumably, for organoleptic changes. Therefore obvious that the proportions between the various polyphenols present in the oil muti significantly nutraceutical and sensory quality of the same.

Why then do we continue to speak simplistically of total polyphenol content? Not that this parameter is devoid of any importance but the one that is attributed is certainly disproportionate. As correctly pointed out by some of the most famous and important Italian professors and researchers during a recent conference in Spoleto, perseverance along this road itself is open to criticism and objections from which other sectors, such as seed oils, may benefit. If you continue to only indicate the total polyphenol content as an index of quality, often absolute, it can be all too easy for some critics of the virtues of the extra virgin, to challenge the effectiveness of some nutritional and Healthy polyphenols. It can be far more appropriate to a more targeted action, which aims to highlight the positive attributes of some polyphenols that are proper and exclusive of extra virgin, such as, for example, oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol, belonging to the subfamily of secoridoidi.

The power, if not corrected u2013 said the expert u2013 can become almost an u2018insultu2019 to our body. Have been noticed in the United States, where fast food restaurants have begun to offer, in addition to burgers and fries, even salads. In Italy, we have a culinary tradition that thankfully focuses on healthy and balanced foods such as tomatoes and olive oil, which can help maintain a good state of health. u201c
Extra virgin olive oil, for example, u201chas several components which, in synergy with each other u2013 said Massimo Lopez, director of the Department of Medical Oncology B Regina Elena Institute of Rome u2013 give rise to a powerful antioxidant effect: in practice, impede the production of free radicals, molecules that can go to interfere with the DNA and to modify the genes making it more vulnerable our body against some types of cancers. In particular u2013 the expert concludes u2013 it has been demonstrated that the substances and chemicals present in this product hinder the expression of a gene at the base of 20% of tumours of the breast. u201c

The nutritional importance of extra-virgin olive oil is expressed through the intake quantity and quality of fatty acids, particularly saturated fat (palmitic acid, stearic) and monounsaturated (oleic acid). The first help to increase the antioxidant power of the oil, while the oleic acid, in addition, to performing functions energy, promotes the formation of lipoproteins HDL, the u201cgood cholesterolu201d that removes cholesterol from artery walls and returns it to the liver where contributes to the formation of bile whose function, indigestion, is precisely to emulsify fats. Simultaneously it reduces the factors LDL (Low-Density Lipoproteins) and VLDL (Very Low-Density Lipoproteins), which cause deposits of u201cbadu201d cholesterol on the artery walls compromising its integrity.
A more precise meaning of the nutritional value of extra virgin olive oil can be derived by comparing the total values of the mono-and polyunsaturated fatty acids with the quantities of the saturated fraction. In a balanced diet, this ratio must always be greater than one, and the results of this comparison confirm the high nutritional quality of the oil.

Recent studies have confirmed, in fact, the relationship between the consumption of diets enriched in monounsaturated fatty acids and greater resistance to oxidative modification of LDL and, at the same time, decrease the atherogenic characteristics once oxidized.

It thus becomes clear that the consumption of olive oil rich in oleic acid reduces the cardiovascular risk factors, lowers cholesterol levels and decreases the sensitivity of both LDL oxidation both of the cells, which are among the main risk factors for atheroscleros

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