Olive Oil, the Mediterranean Diet and Genes

Posted by Olivia on Monday, April 26th, 2010

The internet has been a-buzz for the last week about a recent Spanish study on the Mediterranean diet, and its very positive affects on study participants' risks of heart disease and diabetes. The theory is that the Mediterranean diet, characterized as a diet in which there is/are:

  • a high consumption of fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
  • olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source
  • dairy products, fish and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten
  • eggs are consumed zero to four times a week
  • wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts

As you can see, the Mediterranean diet is rich is olive oil, and so the researchers are focusing on how compounds known as phenols found in olive oil seemed to positively affect the genes of study participants, lowering their risks of heart disease and diabetes, both of which can be attributed to Metabolic Syndrome. The theory is that the phenols affect the genes' innerworkings and help them to protect against the diseases, but why exactly is not yet known.

Said lead author Francisco Perez-Jimenez,

"These findings strengthen the relationship between inflammation, obesity and diet and provide evidence at the most basic level of healthy effects derived from virgin olive oil consumption in humans," said Perez-Jimenez. "It will be interesting to evaluate whether particular phenolic compounds carry these effects."

In any case, it's great to know that protecting against heart disease and diabetes can be so delicious! Why not kickstart your healthy eating with a great olive oil-fish recipe like our Blood Orange-Soy Salmon with some gorgeous Roasted Root Vegetables tossed in EVOO?


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