Olive oil’s secret painkiller ingredient

Good quality olive oil is rich in polyphenols which have so many benefits including protecting the heart, brain, skin and reducing blood sugar, inflammation and ageing.

Olives provide oleocanthals, which are potent anti-inflammatory painkillers. They give good olive oil that peppery ‘bite’ at the back of the throat a little like the strange taste of aspirin. They have been shown to lower blood levels of markers for inflammation (IL-1, IL-6, TNFα) and raise NO (nitric oxide) in a recent study.

But there’s another hero ingredient in good quality olive oil – a polyphenol called hydroxytyrosol. This is an extremely potent antioxidant which, among other things, protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation, thus also lowering it, according to a recent study in the Journal of Nutrition. It is damaged LDL cholesterol that cannot be cleared so easily from the arteries and leads to heart disease.

So well established is the science on olive oil’s health benefits that the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) allows any olive oil with at least 5mg of hydroxytyrosol per 20g of olive oil to claim that it protects blood lipids from oxidative stress.

These polyphenols have been shown to improve heart function, brain function, digestive health, bone health and reduce cancer risk.

The problem is getting a high quality olive oil, which needs to be cold-pressed and organic. The highest recorded, according to a study at the University of Athens of over 2500 samples from around the world measured using the NMR method, is a type of olive called Olympia (also known as Ladolia or Palaiokastritsa or ‘Drop of Life’), grown in a mountainous valley in the Peloponnese in Greece. It contains up to 1900mg/kg of polyphenols, which is eight times higher than the level needed to make health claims and ten times higher than average olive oils.

You don’t want to use this exceptional oil for frying – it is something to add to food after cooking, drizzling on vegetables, salads, rice or adding to soups, having a daily ‘serving’ of around a dessertspoon a day or more if you’re in pain or pursing an optimal diet for 100% health. That’s what I do. The taste is utterly delicious.

I love The Drop of Life Olive Oil so much that I’ve stocked it at HOLFORDirect.com