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Medical Congress: Olive Oil, Nutrition and Health

Jan. 30, 2012
Olivarama

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Our coun­try is on the cut­ting-edge of research into the link between olive oil and health. In recent years, our sci­en­tists have suc­ceeded in demon­strat­ing that cer­tain com­po­nents present in this food­stuff con­tribute to pre­vent­ing the appear­ance and devel­op­ment of some of the most com­mon dis­eases in the west­ern world. For the first time in his­tory, Spanish med­i­cine has coin­cided in one sole forum offer­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of shar­ing knowl­edge acquired to date and trans­mit­ting it to nutri­tion pro­fes­sion­als.

Popular knowl­edge, handed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, has been attribut­ing infi­nite health prop­er­ties to olive oil for cen­turies. People from the Mediterranean basin have tra­di­tion­ally used this nat­ural prod­uct in an attempt to more or less imme­di­ately solve all sorts of aches and pains, often due to der­ma­to­log­i­cal or intesti­nal con­di­tions.

Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that we might already have intu­itively under­stood this, the ther­a­peu­tic and med­i­c­i­nal effi­cacy of olive oil has not been sci­en­tif­i­cally demon­strated until rel­a­tively recent times.

In this sense, the major­ity of the ben­e­fits found are observed fol­low­ing pro­longed and con­tin­u­ous intake of vir­gin and extra vir­gin oils, which exert a pro­tec­tive effect against the devel­op­ment of patholo­gies such as myocar­dial infarc­tion, stroke, dia­betes, cer­tain types of can­cer and, even obe­sity, among many oth­ers.

More and more health pages of both the spe­cialised and gen­eral press reflect the new progress made in this area, although before now no con­text in which all of them could be analysed and debated had been found.

Spain: research and pro­duc­tion leader

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Apart from being con­sid­ered the main world pro­ducer, Spain is also posi­tione­dat the fore­front of sci­en­tific research into olive oil. With the goal of shar­ing all the knowl­edge acquired to date and mak­ing an exchange of expe­ri­ences pos­si­ble, the I Medical Congress: Olive Oil, Nutrition and Health was recently orga­nized by the Interprofesional del Aceite de Oliva Español, together with the Fundación Patrimonio Comunal Olivarero and the Fundación Dieta Mediterránea; with the co-financ­ing of the International Olive Council.

This encounter took place in the head­quar­ters of the pro­fes­sional med­ical asso­ci­a­tion, Ilustre Colegio Oficial de Médicos de Madrid, on November 4 and 5. The oppor­tu­nity for the most promi­nent fig­ures involved in the main lines of research cur­rently open to meet and share their dis­cov­er­ies with a tar­get mainly made up of doc­tors, nutri­tion­ists, med­ical stu­dents and health­care pro­fes­sion­als.

Latest lines of research

The occa­sion rep­re­sented a unique oppor­tu­nity to hear, from the mouths of the pro­tag­o­nists them­selves, the lat­est advances link­ing the ben­e­fits of olive oil with health and nutri­tion.

In this con­text, Professor Eduard Escrich, whom we inter­viewed in edi­tion nº 4 of OLIVARAMA, high­lighted the most rel­e­vant points of an exten­sive research study which he has been head­ing up for the last 28 years from the Cellular Biology and Immunology Department of the Medicine Faculty of the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. The results obtained in this study demon­strate that those patients with a diet rich in olive oil tend to develop a less malig­nant and aggres­sive form of breast can­cer.

For their part, the doc­tors Ramón Estruch and Miguel Ángel Martínez took advan­tage of their talk to reveal the details of the Predimed macros­tudy which they have been coor­di­nat­ing for the last 7 years with a view to dis­cov­er­ing the effects of the Mediterranean Diet on the pri­mary pre­ven­tion of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease. Among their con­clu­sions is the fact that peo­ple using this ingre­di­ent in their diet present a lower risk of dia­betes, hyper­ten­sion, depres­sion and, above all, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases.

These same effects were also observed in the research stud­ies that doc­tor Jaime Masjuan, from the Hospital Ramón y Cajal in Madrid, pre­sented in the area of stroke pre­ven­tion. This study, con­ducted in France and known as The three cities”, clearly showed that peo­ple who reg­u­larly con­sume olive oil are less likely to have a cere­brovas­cu­lar acci­dent. Masjuan also revealed that at present work is ongo­ing to demon­strate the influ­ence of this prod­uct on dis­eases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

José López Miranda, on behalf of the Lipids Unit of the University of Córdoba, one of the most van­guard cen­tres in our coun­try in this field of med­i­cine, reminded us of the results show­ing the pos­i­tive effects of olive oil on the endothe­lium, the tis­sue coat­ing the inside of blood ves­sels. In this sense, con­sump­tion of this prod­uct pro­tects the struc­ture of the afore­men­tioned tis­sue from oxida­tive inflam­ma­tion, that tends to give rise to mul­ti­ple aches and pains.

To sum up, Doctor Francisco Pérez Jiménez, from the University Hospital Reina Sofía of Córdoba, like the rest of his col­leagues, sup­ported the sci­en­tific evi­dence that olive oil is healthy, espe­cially in the pre­ven­tion of the most wide­spread dis­eases among the pop­u­la­tion of devel­oped coun­tries.

A com­mon request

Having said this, the Congress par­tic­i­pants also made their dis­con­tent in the face of the European leg­is­la­tion which, unlike the North American, has not yet autho­rised labelling the extra vir­gin and vir­gin olive oils as healthy prod­ucts.

This is why they peti­tioned the rel­e­vant author­i­ties to accel­er­ate this deci­sion-mak­ing with a view to allow­ing us to soon hold a bot­tle in our hands that allows us to read that it is a food­stuff rich in monoun­sat­u­rated fatty acids and polyphe­nols which help pre­vent oxida­tive stress.



Olivarama arti­cles also appear in Olivarama mag­a­zine and are not edited by Olive Oil Times.

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