Nutritional Values & Benefits
It is no coincidence that olive oil occupies such an important place in the Mediterranean diet. Its nutritional value was what highlighted its importance in our daily lives and talking about its nutritional value we refer to its content of ‘good’ – unsaturated fats, fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin E) and antioxidants, such as polyphenols.
The beneficial value of olive oil in the Mediterranean diet is mainly due to its content of monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats in the diet have been linked to maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.
Studies have shown that when saturated dietary fats are replaced by polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats (so-called ‘good’ fats), the lipid profile appears to improve.
This is why international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the American Heart Association recommend the replacement of saturated fats (animal fats) with monounsaturated (olive oil) and polyunsaturated fatty acids (soft margarines, nuts).
However, precisely because fats are rich in calories, it is important to emphasize the amount of olive oil we consume!
The reduction in the incidence of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases has been associated with the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants. The reason: antioxidants protect against damage to molecules and cell membranes.
Polyphenols, the antioxidants we know as a component of wine, red fruits and coffee, are a key component of olive oil. When we use olive oil as a basic source of fat in our diet we manage to meet a significant percentage of our daily needs for antioxidants.
At the same time, the phenolic components of olive oil seem to be associated with heart health, acting against oxidative stress, while protecting the quality of the oil as they affect the aroma and taste of olive oil and at the same time act against the oxidation of the oil itself.
Olive oil is an excellent source of vitamin E, the fat-soluble vitamin that has a strong antioxidant effect. Vitamin E in olive oil is another ingredient that is associated with maintaining heart health in combination with its polyphenols and the monounsaturated fatty acids it contains.
The antioxidant activity of vitamin E in olive oil has also been linked to the prevention of premature aging, as its adequate intake appears to be linked to protection against degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.