`Medical Congress: Olive Oil, Nutrition and Health


Medical Congress: Olive Oil, Nutrition and Health

Jan. 30, 2012

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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


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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