They don’t look or taste alike, but olive oil and breast milk are surprisingly similar.
Extra virgin olive oil contains omega 3 and omega 6 in similar portions to breast milk fat and the same percentage of linoleic acid, making it an indispensable food for the myelination of nerve fibres and brain development. It is easy to digest and helps gastric functioning, preventing constipation and colic.
Olive oil helps absorb vitamin D, which is important for growing babies and children because it regulates calcium and phosphorus and encourages the intake of minerals essential to the process of ossification. This protects children against bone fractures in their tender years and the risk of osteoporosis in old age.
In recent findings, there has been a rise in cholesterol levels in children, a great contributor to obesity that affects one out of three children between 6 and 9 years of age. Since olive oil lowers total blood cholesterol levels, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, doctors have recommended replacing animal fats with olive oil to help combat the rising obesity in children.
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A lower risk of asthma has also been reported in mothers who have consumed a consistent amount of olive oil throughout pregnancy. Their babies have been found to have a more developed immune system, and lower risk of rhinitis and allergies.
Olive oil is even said to be effective in curing cradle cap. Applied to the parts of the head affected by cradle cap before normal cleansing, olive oil’s hydrating properties can act as a natural remedy.
In Italy, doctors strongly recommend using olive oil in solids for babies being weaned off breast milk. They even recommend adding it to a baby’s bottle of expressed or even formula milk to gain the benefits of the substance, especially for babies suffering from colic. This is because olive oil can facilitate the natural gastric process and contains oleuropein. This natural anti-inflammatory substance reproduces the natural effects of ibuprofen, the active ingredient widely used in the production of pain medication.
Saverio Pandolfi from the Italian Institute of Plant Genetics discussed this in more depth. The researcher said olive oil is the most similar food to breast milk for babies, and he recommends starting with a teaspoon-full of high-quality extra virgin olive oil in every meal prepared for the baby.
“Olive oil is not only pleasing to every child because it reminds him of breast milk, but even to those who have never had oil in their diet,” said Pandolfi, such as Eskimos or Africans.
Plasmon, one of Italy’s most popular baby food companies, produces olive oil exclusively for weaning babies. It is made with olives produced and pressed in Italy only and using techniques that the company says ensure the oil maintains more of its health benefits.
The Mediterranean diet starts young in Italy.