olive oil

Independent research has shown that both olive oil and wine appear to protect people from cardiovascular disease. For example, a recent review pointed out that red wine, in particular, contains polyphenols that protect the heart (Liberale et al, Current Medicinal Chemistry, online May 17, 2017). (Of course, excessive wine does more harm than good.) A recent study on olive oil found that its polyphenols can protect tissues from oxidation (Fernandez-Castillejo et al, Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, online May 25, 2017).

What Is It About Olive Oil and Wine?

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates a reason for similar benefits from olive oil and wine. Both virgin olive oil and wine contain the polyphenol hydroxytyrosol. This compound is metabolized to homovanillyl alcohol or HVAL for short.

How Does HVAL Affect Cardiovascular Health?

The researchers tested urine samples of 1,851 older men and women. These were people who participated in a five-year Mediterranean diet study in Spain known as PREDIMED. The investigators were specifically looking for HVAL levels.

The results of their study? The higher the HVAL concentrations in urine, the less likely people were to develop cardiovascular disease or die prematurely. The authors predicted that older people with the highest levels of HVAL gained nearly a decade compared to people with low levels of this compound.

De la Torre et al, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June, 2017 

What Is a Mediterranean Diet?

To get the benefits from a Mediterranean diet, it takes a bit more than olive oil and wine. For one thing, the olive oil should be extra virgin olive oil, rich in polyphenols, which gives it a peppery flavor. For another, the wine is best in moderate quantities, consumed at meals with friends.

A Mediterranean-style diet is also rich in fish, fruits and vegetables, with very little meat, milk or sugar. You can find guidance on eating a Mediterranean diet in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies.

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  1. Sara
    Cleveland, Ohio

    I have had a lifetime of constipation! I tried all of the acceptable solutions to constipation without success. However, things have changed. I developed a higher blood sugar level about a year ago. I read up on solutions to the problem without using medication. I read in literature about diabetes, and found that drinking a mixture of one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and about a quarter cup of water in the morning prior to breakfast can lower blood sugar. The big surprise for me was that I have no further problems with constipation. I have had no side effects.

  2. Jim

    There is a reason that the Bible speaks constantly of wheat, wine and oil abounding as the sign of the good life. It also is the backbone of the Eastern Orthodox diet. Most monks only take half a cup of red wine with some hot water and not every day of the week but two to six days a week, depending on fasts and feasts. Most of them remain thin and free of disease into ripe old age. I only would add that lentils and wild bitter greens are the other two indispensable ingredients in this way of eating.

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