Extra virgin olive oil is officially a medicine

Xylella, millions of olive trees affected, 350 experts seek remedy
17 February 2021
Xylella, millions of olive trees affected, 350 experts seek remedy
17 February 2021

Extra virgin olive oil is officially a medicine

The Food and Drug Administration has revised the definition of this food. It does so much good in preventing and combating a number of diseases that it must be considered as a drug. But it must be taken and kept following precise rules

It is in all the newspapers that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the strict government body that oversees the regulation of food and pharmaceutical products, which will be distributed on American soil, has revisited the definition of extra virgin olive oil from health food to medicine. Americans have not closed their eyes to the increasingly numerous and solid scientific evidence of the clinical efficacy of yellow gold or Mr. EVOO (as the Anglo-Saxons sympathetically put it) in the prevention of lethal cardiovascular diseases and cognitive deficits typical of the elderly, as well as than in reducing the risk of silent type II diabetes mellitus.

And perhaps not everyone knows that the daily intake of extra virgin olive oil is useful in reducing the risk of breast cancer thanks to its great anti-inflammatory and nutrigenomic properties. The Yankees did not need any further evidence to proceed and, as often happens, they burned over time the legislators of the old Mediterranean continent, where the millennial oleum olive was born, spreading from Syria, home of the first olive tree crops (Olea europaea), to the point of becoming an authoritative signature of “made in Italy” cuisine, and more. In fact, extra virgin olive oil has recently been rediscovered as a soothing ointment for skin protection, thanks to its squalene content, from which the more stable squalane originates (a saturated hydrocarbon of terpenic nature) widely used by cosmetics modern, but that’s another story.

How to take extra virgin olive oil

The FDA claim establishes that it is sufficient to ingest every day, and within a maximum of 12/18 months from the extraction (according to Italian law (Law n.9 / 2013, art.7), from the date of bottling of the product), 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of extra virgin olive oil (notoriously having a content of oleic acid between 70 and 80%), raw and cold worked, to guarantee our body the intake of at least 17.5 grams of oleic acid, an important monounsaturated fatty acid of the omega 9 family, 4.5 milligrams of vitamin E, a well-known fat-soluble antioxidant, 10 milligrams of effective polyphenols (including oleocanthal, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol and oleacein), powerful modulators of expression of protective genes in an epigenetic way (without modifying the DNA sequence), which abound (> 600mg / kg of oil) in specific olive varieties, such as the Apulian Coratina and Ogliarola, the Tuscan Maurino and Moraiolo, the Spanish Cornicabra and the Californian Mission.

Although courage to innovate speaks American, the scientific evidence supporting innovation also speaks Italian. In 2016 it was shown by a group of researchers from the Aldo Moro University of Bari that the single intake by healthy subjects, in the morning and on an empty stomach, of 50 milliliters (44 grams) of Coratina extra virgin olive oil promotes the expression of microRNA (miR; the smallest RNA in nature that block the expression of specific genes) with anti-inflammatory (miR-23b-3p) and anti-tumor (miR-519b-3p) action, while inhibiting the expression of microRNA which favor the onset of insulin resistance (miR-107) ().

At the moment, the US recognition of Mr. EVOO is based on its high oleic acid content and, ahead of time, other vegetable oils could benefit as well, such as the cheaper high oleic sunflower oil (oleic acid: 85-86% ) obtained by chemical extraction and refining (which involves the use of solvents), although devoid of the precious polyphenols of extra virgin olive oil, but more stable and resistant than Mr. EVOO at high temperatures (such as during frying).

For those interested, it is good to remember that 23 grams of extra virgin olive oil guarantee the contribution of just over 200 calories. Therefore, Mr. EVOO should be the exclusive condiment of a balanced and low-fat diet, such as the Mediterranean or DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), to avoid an excessive intake of calories from fat. The studies supporting the FDA’s decision have been there for all to see for years and show that the replacement in the diet of certain saturated fatty acids, such as long-chain ones (for example, palmitic acid and myristic acid), with right doses of oleic acid and / or polyunsaturated fatty acids (for example, omega 3) strongly reduces serum levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, among the main causes of atherosclerosis. The effects on HDL cholesterol, on the other hand, are still to be verified.

Proper storage

But what precautions should be used to avoid damaging Mr. EVOO? In order not to alter its nutraceutical potential, it should be remembered that Mr. EVOO is very demanding and prefers:

• be stored at a temperature between 14 and 18 degrees; while, it does not like high temperatures or close to or below zero;
• be kept in small (maximum 500 milliliters) well-closed containers, always clean, made of glass (opaque or dark), porcelain or stainless steel, in cool places and away from aromatic contamination. Although tin is a good compromise for short periods, food-grade plastic should never be used. Recalling, however, that in catering, the Italian law Law 161 of 30 October 2014 (article 18, paragraph 1 c) prescribes the use of closed, labeled and non-refillable containers, while prohibiting the use of pleasant and artistic cruets or cruets ” domestic “.
• not to be in contact with oxygen and therefore do not allow it to remain in half-empty containers for a long time, even if hermetically sealed.

It is appropriate to say that spilling the oil in our diet touches thanks, and not misfortunes, frauds and counterfeits permitting.


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