What We Should Try
Posted on March 9, 2011 by Jeffrey
Olive oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the olive (Olea europaea), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is used in cooking, cosmetics, soaps, and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is regarded as a healthy dietary oil because of its high content of monounsaturated fat (mainly oleic acid) and polyphenols.
Named oleocanthal by the researchers, the compound inhibits activity of cyclooxygenase (COX) enzymes, a pharmacological action shared by ibuprofen.
The finding is significant because inflammation increasingly is believed to play a key role in a variety of chronic diseases. “Some of the health-related effects of the Mediterranean diet may be due to the natural anti-COX activity of oleocanthal from premium olive oils,” observes Monell biologist Gary Beauchamp, PhD.
The findings are described in the September 1 issue of the journal Nature.
The scientists were led to the discovery by the serendipitous observation that fresh extra-virgin olive oil irritates the back of the throat in a unique and unusual manner. “I had considerable experience swallowing and being stung in the throat by ibuprofen from previous studies on its sensory properties,” explains Beauchamp. “So when I tasted newly-pressed olive oil while attending a meeting on molecular gastronomy in Sicily, I was startled to notice that the throat sensations were virtually identical.”
Taking their lead from the cues provided by olive oil’s throaty bite, the scientists systematically evaluated the sensory properties of an unnamed chemical compound thought to be responsible for the throat irritating property of premium olive oils. When results confirmed that the irritating intensity of a given extra-virgin olive oil was directly related to how much of the chemical it contained, the researchers named the compound oleocanthal (oleo=olive; canth=sting; al=aldehyde).
To rule out the possibility that any other compound was involved, chemists at Monell and Penn created a synthetic form of oleocanthal identical in all respects to that found naturally in olive oil, and showed that it produced exactly the same throat irritation. Co-author Amos Smith, PhD, explains, “Only by de novo synthesis could we be absolutely certain that the active ingredient was oleocanthal.”
The sensory similarities between oleocanthal and ibuprofen led scientists at Monell and the University of the Sciences to investigate potential common pharmacological properties. Studies revealed that, like ibuprofen, oleocanthal inhibits activity of COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. Because inhibition of COX activity underlies the anti-inflammatory actions of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), the new findings suggest oleocanthal is a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
Monell sensory scientist Paul Breslin, PhD, who directed the research together with Beauchamp remarks, “The Mediterranean diet, of which olive oil is a central component, has long been associated with numerous health benefits, including decreased risk of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, lung cancer, and some dementias. Similar benefits are associated with certain NSAIDs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Now that we know of oleocanthal’s anti-inflammatory properties, it seems plausible that oleocanthal plays a causal role in the health benefits associated with diets where olive oil is the principal source of fat.”
Beauchamp said future research will aim to identify how oleocanthal inhibits COX enzymes and how this is related to throat sting.
According to Breslin, “This study is the first to make the case for pharmacological activity based on irritation and furthers the idea originally proposed decades ago by Fischer that a compound’s orosensory qualities might reflect its pharmacological potency.”
The amount and type of fats you eat control your health. Fats control your inflammation, your blood sugar levels, your insulin levels, and your insulin resistance.
For 30 years or more, authorities have been telling us to lower our fats, and to eat more “heart healthy omega-6 vegetable oil.”
However, recent research has shown that we’ve overdone it. We’ve been eating entirely too much omega-6.
Eating too much omega-6 helped the farmers and food manufacturers, but it is killing us.
Research now shows that about 3 out of 4 of us — 73% — are dying from inflammation related diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s, and so on. Over the last few years, researchers around the world have discovered that the leading culprit in this epidemic of inflammation is one simple thing… we eat too much vegetable oil. We flood our system with omega-6 fat.
Balancing the fats you eat — both the types and the amounts — will enable you to prevent most degenerative diseases, or to improve the status of diseases you may already suffer from. In fact, for most of us, balancing our dietary fats is the single most important thing we can do to improve and maintain our health.
Legumes Diets high in legumes are inversely related to plasma concentrations of C-reactive protein (CRP). Among the many varieties of legumes are; pinto beans, lentils, kidney beans, borlotti beans, mung beans, soybeans, cannelloni beans, garbanzo or chickpeas, adzuki beans, fava beans, and black beans.
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds are rich in unsaturated fat and other nutrients that may reduce inflammation. Frequent nut consumption is associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers. This may explain why there is a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes with frequent nut and seed consumption. With the exception of peanuts, be sure to add in walnuts, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds are best eaten when unsalted and raw.
Research from around the world supports eating a diet largely based on colorful, high fiber vegetables and fruits, with berries, roots, beans, peas, legumes, whole grains and whole nuts, supplemented by many spices like red pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and herbal teas.
Adults should eat up to 15 total servings of vegetables or fruits per day, servings of about 3 ounces each. That’s about 3 pounds or a kilogram and a half per day of total high fiber fruit and vegetables.
Fats in the diet should come from either extra virgin olive oil, or possibly the new “high-oleic” safflower and sunflower oils, or a small amount of coconut oil, which are largely omega-9 and medium-chain-triglyceride saturated fats. Nuts and veggies like avocados also contribute to healthy fats in the diet. Meals should be eaten raw or lightly steamed or sauteed in olive oils and spices.
These nutritional tips will help your overall health: