Benefits of olive oil examined

Food professionals and culinary experts from around the world are this week gathering in the southern Italian region of Puglia for six days of seminars, symposia and product tasting in an effort to understand and promote the health benefits of the traditional Mediterranean diet.

Organised by Boston-based think tank Oldways, the gathering marks the first step in a strategic programme – called Olivita – that aims to encourage the consumption of extra virgin olive oil around the world.

“The Mediterranean diet is of course not new... We know it tracks back to the Phoenicians, the earliest expansive traders that carried olives and olive oil to the Mediterranean coastline,” said Oldways President Dun Gifford.

“In 2006, 2 800 years later, we know that the Mediterranean diet is as healthy an eating pattern as there is anywhere in the world. Fifty years of very high level science, basic and applied, repeatedly confirms this hypothesis,” he added.

Several health benefits
Indeed, the Mediterranean diet, rich in cereals, fruits, legumes and whole grains, fish and olive oil, has been linked to longer life, less heart disease, and protection against some cancers. The diet’s main nutritional components include beta-carotene, vitamin C, tocopherols, polyphenols, and essential minerals.

And although hundreds of studies conducted over several decades have investigated the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, last year saw some breakthroughs in pinpointing why olive oil has a protective action against heart disease and cancer, making an even stronger case for consuming more olive oil.

In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a health claim for olive oil, for its potential to reduce coronary heart disease.

Just a few months ago, a new study from Greece again reinforced the health link, revealing that the diet could help people with established heart problems. Another Greek study published in June said that people who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet are 60 percent less likely to be obese. And just this month, a multi-ethnic study from the US suggested that greater adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet could cut the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by a whopping 68 percent.

An intense programme
The ongoing Olivita event in Puglia has brought together scientists, importers, retailers, chefs and opinion leaders for an intense programme designed to examine the benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet, within a region that is home to some of the earth’s oldest olive trees.

Seminars will include an examination of the latest research surrounding the diet type, the factors influencing consumer choice of olive oil and ways to clearly convey health messages and avoid consumer confusion, as well as the development and consumer reaction to healthy fast foods. - (Decision News Media, November 2006)

Read more:
Olive oil boosts cell defences
Olive polyphenol boosts bone health

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 2515 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
52% - 12650 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
34% - 8284 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 821 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.