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Learning the Health Benefits of Olive Oil and Its Medicinal Properties

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finally come to realize what every Italian nonna has known for generations – that olive oil has many health benefits.

Now the FDA recognizes the oil as having medicinal properties. An FDA review showed that olive oil is the only natural edible oil to contain at least 70% of oleic acid per serving and it has made a series of suggestions as to how this precious medicine should be taken. The FDA recommends that people consume two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil every day and that the oil be within 12 to18 months of its extraction (which is from the date of bottling of the product according to Italian law). Consumers are further advised to use olive oil to replace a similar amount of saturated fat in their diets and not to increase their total number of daily calories. This means that you will get at least 17.5 grams of oleic acid, in addition to a good dose of vitamin E and polyphenols, in particular, oleocanthal, tyrosol, hydroxytyrosol and oleacea. The olive oil should be stored at a temperature between 60 and 68 degrees in opaque containers. While this will not come as news to most Italians and Italian Americans, it is definitely winning news for Italian olive oil producers.

Research conducted in Italy has shown that some fats, including olive oil, are not just nutrients but also have extraordinary health benefits. Olive oil’s optimal ratio between the essential fatty acids omega-6 and omega-3 means the precious oil is an invaluable ally in the prevention of colon cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cognitive deficits and it also lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A study at the University of Bari, in collaboration of AIRC (The Italian Association for Cancer Research), has shown that the absence of oleic acid in the diet in certain conditions, can lead to inflammation that may be a precursor to colon cancer. Researchers at Sapienza University of Rome have associated the intake of extra virgin olive oil with a marked improvement in blood glucose levels after meals in healthy subjects.

The Italian agriculture group Coldiretti said the U.S. was now the biggest market for olive oil after Italy and Spain. “This news represents a further recognition of the positive health effects associated with the consumption of extra virgin olive oil.” The group also cited countries that unfairly label olive oil as a food that’s hazardous to health. “Countries from the UK to Chile use red lights or black stamps to discourage the consumption of the staple of the Mediterranean diet, always considered an elixir of long life.”