In the chemical composition of olive oil, two fatty acids, oleic and linoleic acid, are crucial to our cells, as they are basic constituents of cellular membranes.
Olive oil has a protective action against atherosclerosis, because oleic acid is more difficult to oxidise than the other fats found in nature. It contributes to decrease the production of LDL lipoproteins (so-called ‘bad cholesterol’) which are the primary cause of atherosclerotic plaque formation in arteries, the mechanism that causes the blockage of blood vessels (as occurs in myocardial infarction or cerebral stroke).
This is a well-known aspect of olive oil, but not everyone knows that this ingredient is also highly beneficial in the field of sports because oleic and linoleic acid play a role in the constitution of the cellular membranes of the striated muscle, enhancing the elasticity to the muscle fibre. Olive oil should be an integral part of an athlete’s diet, for its preventative action against muscular injuries.
Last but not least it should be noted that the high content of anti-oxidants like tocopherol (vitamin E), polyphenols and vitamin A, in olive oil serves to prevent oxidative stress, the mechanism initiated by the phenomena of cellular aging.
As a nutritionist, one last note regarding the caloric power of this exceptional food: 900 calories per 100 g of product. This means that for every spoonful of soup, approximately 10 grams, our body is supplied with 90 calories. If we are worried about weight, it is advisable to use it sparingly.
This text is taken from “A food with exceptional qualities of nutrition and health” written by Luca Spigno, medical nutritionist. It is en extract from chapter 5 of the book “An Olive Oil Family” written by Cristina and Federico Santagata, published by Olio Officina Edizioni.