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We have always used extra virgin olive oil in our cooking and our salad dressings, but never knew that it could reduce pain and inflammation! Read on….

Olive Oil: A Natural Painkiller?

Could a traditional food have pain- and inflammation-reducing effects similar to over the counter pain medicine like ibuprofen?  Scientists from Italy, Spain, the U.S. and Australia have discovered that extra virgin olive oil can provide significant health benefits, including the ability to help reduce pain and inflammation. This robust, flavorful oil is an example of the food as medicine concept, that foods can have a powerful impact on health…

Eating Healthy With Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil can contribute nutritional support in the fight against such health problems as arthritis, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, and in pain management. A research study from Spain has shown that higher olive oil consumption is associated with leaner body weight, an important factor in prevention of chronic conditions.

Natural Painkiller Discovered in Olive Oil

Recent research has identified the antioxidant called oleocanthal, which is only found in extra-virgin olive oil. Scientists at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, in Philadelphia, found that oleocanthal in olive oil has a potency strikingly similar to that of the drug ibuprofen in inhibiting the cyclooxygenase (Cox) enzyme that causes pain and inflammation. Their findings were published in the science magazine Nature.

Given the side effects of common pain relieving drugs, finding a nutritional way to reduce pain and inflammation could be a solution for people suffering from pain.

In another study Italian researchers explain that the characteristic pungent and bitter taste of virgin olive oil have been attributed to phenols in the oil that have potential antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive and anti-cancer benefits.

Research on Health Benefits of Olive Oil

At the meeting of the “International conference on the healthy effect of virgin olive oil” that took place in Spain in 2005, numerous benefits of virgin olive oil from the research were outlined. They looked at the consumption of olive oil from the perspective of issues such as cardiovascular health, cancer and longevity. With respect to anti-aging they noted: “The more recent studies consistently support that the Mediterranean diet, based in virgin olive oil, is compatible with a healthier ageing and increased longevity.”

Consumption of olive oil has been associated with:

  • Reduction of total cholesterol and an increase in the high-density cholesterol (HDL-C), which has a protective effect on blood vessels.
  • Improved sensitivity of cells to insulin, which helps to prevent the Metabolic Syndrome. Preventing Metabolic Syndrome is important, because the syndrome increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease.

Potent Antioxidant Power of Olive Oil

Phenolic compounds are potent antioxidants found in virgin and extra-virgin olive oil. These compounds give unrefined olive oils their distinctive flavors and high degree of stability.

Studies indicate these compounds may be able to:

Olive Oil: A Natural Painkiller?
  • Decrease production of inflammatory chemicals called thromboxanes and leukotrienes.
  • Turn off the activity of genes that produce the kind of inflammation that causes coronary heart disease.
  • Decrease the production of the most damaging form of cholesterol, oxidized LDL cholesterol.
  • University of South Australia researchers note that compounds from the olive were found to be antimicrobial against various bacteria.

by Leo Galland, M.D. Huffinton Post, April 26.2011

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