By Daniel Williams
Olive Oil Times Contributor | Reporting from Barcelona
Leading olive oil industry experts met at the Menendez Pelayo International University in Santander, Spain to criticize the European Union’s current stance towards the various health benefits of consuming olive oil. Experts participated in a series of lectures and seminars from June 14th to June 18th that highlighted the need for olive oil to gain EU recognition as playing an important part of a healthy diet. Experts agreed that such recognition is necessary in order to substantially differentiate olive oil from other forms of oils and fats that are less beneficial to one’s health.
This idea was reiterated throughout the conference entitled “Olive Oil, History and Life” and was organized and directed by leading doctor and adviser from the Department of Lipids at the Reina Sofia Hospital in Cordoba, Fernando Lopez Segura. Of particular concern to olive oil producers and business owners, according to the participants, is the European Union’s failure to recognize olive oil health properties, often grouping olive oil with other types of “bad fats” despite overwhelming scientific evidence showing olive oil consumption to have clear long term health benefits.
The conference discussed the various difficulties of explaining the overall benefits of olive oil to the average consumer especially in the face of economic uncertainty. A major hurdle is marketing olive oil’s benefits when it is often three times as expensive as substitutes like sunflower or vegetable oil. Experts reiterated olive oil’s inherent worth however, citing its inclusion as an important part of the Mediterranean diet which has shown to extend the life spans of those who adhere to it.
To supplement this, the seminar attendees heard from sports medicine specialist Juan Antonio Corbalán who detailed findings of varies studies that show olive oil to aid in the defense against various types of sickness and disease. Corbalán warned consumers of olive oil substitutes like trans-fats and animal fats that these substitutes may be cheaper in the here and now, but will eventually produce costly negative effects to the body’s health in the long term.