MINNEAPOLIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The International Olive Council’s (IOC) most recent research paper, “The Emerging Health Attributes of the Mediterranean Diet and Olive Oil,” explains how the monounsaturated or “good” fat found in the Mediterranean Diet along with other lifestyle factors can help protect human health. The latest in a series of reports from the IOC shows that scientific research continues to uncover more evidence supporting the benefits of dietary and lifestyle choices on health, including the Mediterranean diet and olive oil. The full report is available at www.addsomelife.org. Key findings include specific health benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet and an explanation of good and bad fats.
“Health Attributes of the Mediterranean Diet and Olive Oil”
A person's diet contributes substantially to his or her health, and emerging research points to the Mediterranean diet’s positive effects on inflammation, cognitive health, neurological disease, depression and overall quality of life.
Increasingly, olive oil is seen as a strong weapon against inflammation and a variety of other medical conditions. Inflammation is the body's first response to illness and is a necessary function of a healthy immune system. However, chronic inflammation, or inflammation that is continuously activated, is a quiet and persistent disorder that increases a person's susceptibility to chronic disease and illness. Many age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, have roots in inflammation.
The positive effects of the Mediterranean diet are due to the phenolic compounds found in olive oil and other foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts as well as oleic acid. While the mechanisms by which olive oil affects inflammation are not fully understood, research supports that phenolic compounds in olive oil modify genes involved in the inflammatory response.
Additionally, pairing olive oil with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes can actually boost their overall health benefits. New research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that the monounsaturated fat found in olive oil and the Mediterranean diet is particularly effective in facilitating the absorption of nutrients found in tomatoes and other vegetables.
Discovering the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet offers great taste while promoting health and wellness. But what exactly is the Mediterranean diet? In general, this diet is characterized by an abundance of fish, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olives, olive oil and other whole foods from the Mediterranean. Scientifically speaking, a traditional Mediterranean dietary pattern typically has a high ratio of oleic acid to saturated fatty acid and omega-3 to omega-6.
Olive oil is a versatile ingredient to keep on hand and adds flavor to many Mediterranean-style main dishes, appetizers and salads. From using it as a flavor-enhancer in dips to a cooking agent for sautéing vegetables, olive oil makes it easy to add Mediterranean flair to your kitchen.
Olive oil can be used for sautéing, baking and even deep frying. Because of its versatility, olive oil is a great all-around oil to keep on hand in the kitchen. When using olive oil for cooking, keep in mind the “smoke point.” The smoke point is the temperature at which oil will start to smoke when heated. Oil with a high smoke point can be heated to a relatively high temperature before it starts to smoke and cause foods to taste burnt or like smoke. According to a report published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, olive oil has a smoke point of about 468°F (242°C), which is higher than cottonseed oil, soybean oil, grape seed oil, canola oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil, corn oil (refined), sesame seed oil, peanut oil (refined), safflower oil, (refined), lard and butter. Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 410°F (210°C). Because the temperature for pan-frying is normally between 350°–375°F (177–191°C) both olive oil and extra virgin olive oil are suitable for frying.
Olive oil also works well as a salad dressing on its own, but for an interesting twist on the traditional salad it can be used as a main ingredient in Fresh Salmon Salad and Chargrilled Calamari Salad. These flavorful combinations of vegetables, herbs, spices and fresh grilled seafood are an easy way to liven up an otherwise conventional salad.
For a unique variation on olives as stand-alone appetizers, try Spiced Green Olives. Simply marinate olives in a mixture of olive oil, cumin, coriander, garlic, paprika, cayenne, thyme, sliced orange and harissa paste to create this quick and easy recipe and add life to your next dinner party.
For a lighter main dish, try Cod and Kale Skillet. Season cod with dill, salt and pepper before cooking, then sauté a mixture of kale, onion, garlic and tomato with olive oil for this Mediterranean-inspired recipe that adds flavor and taste.
By infusing fresh flavors with whole Mediterranean foods, you can create nutrient-rich dishes and appetizers that are perfect for entertaining a group or serving a dinner for two. For more healthful, quick-to-prepare dishes with olives and olive oil, visit www.addsomelife.org.
About the International Olive Council
The International Olive Council (IOC) is the worldwide body that sets quality standards for the olive and olive oil industry. Based in Madrid, Spain, the council is an intergovernmental organization created in 1959. It is charged with implementing the 2005 International Agreement on Olive Oil and Table Olives, the purpose of which is to promote trade, consumption and international cooperation in the fields of olive oil and olives.
Twittercue: Find the new International Olive Council report: "Health Attributes of The Mediterranean Diet & Olive Oil" on addsomelife.org