Olive oil, a key component of theMediterranean diet, increases longevity particularly when coupled with other healthy oils like fish oil DHA, a healthy microbiome and exercise.
First, Spanish researchers (1) analysing calorie intake and olive oil intake data taken from dietary questionnaires provided by 40,622 men and women aged 29 to 69 and living in Spain, recruited into the Europe-wide ´European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition´, concluded that:
- There was a link between greater first pressed Extra Virgin olive oil (EVOO) consumption and a lowered risk of dying, during the average 13.4 years of follow-up.
- The monounsaturated fats found in olive oil work synergistically with essential fatty acids, especially the omega-3 fat, DHA, from fish oils to enhance their incorporation into cell membranes.
The scientists found that participants whose olive oil intake ranked in the top quartile had a 44 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease, and a 38 per cent less risk of dying from other causes, than non-users.
One of the major benefits was the effectiveness of olive oil in reducing inflammation. Indeed both olive oil and fish oils have this benefit.
Two teaspoons a day keeps the doctor away
The researchers also noted that olive oil may be protective against certain cancers, against cellular inflammation, and against heart disease. The protective monounsaturated fats, vitamin E and phenolic compounds in olive oil are the most positive health factors; with two teaspoons a day being an adequate amount.
Olive oil and DHA fish oil provided a synergistic effect to shield against heart disease. In prior randomised clinical trials, olive oil has been shown to improve systemic inflammation and glycemic control.
Olive oil promotes longevity through Sirtuin 1
A second study(1) provides an explanation for how olive oil might be specifically promoting longevity. In research published at the end of 2019 by the University of Minnesota Medical School showed that uniquely, olive oil seemed to work in two ways
i) Mono-unsaturated fatty acids (the type found in olive oil) activate the production of a hormone, Sirtuin 1. The production of Sirtuin 1 has been previously shown by longevity experts such as Professor Valter Longo, to be the crucial hormone for an increased life span. It is also produced when fasting for more than 24 hours, and resveratrol (found in red wine and red grape skins) is also a proven stimulant.
ii) The researchers also showed that the monounsaturated fats of olive oil could uniquely form Lipid Droplets inside cells and these promoted oxidative metabolism in the mitochondria of those cells. A protein perilipin 5 binds to these Lipid Droplets and transports them to the nucleus. Thus the cells work more efficiently.
Olive oil works with fish oils and gut bacteria to reduce inflammation
There are several studies on the benefit of olive oil in reducing inflammation; and chronic inflammation is the precursor of chronic illness. Less inflammation; less illness!
First, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) contains an important phenolic compound, oleocanthal, which has been shown in research (3) to control inflammation in the same way as Ibuprofen.
One fatty acid, oleic acid, in EVOO has been shown(4) to reduce inflammation marker, C-Reactive protein, in humans. This is particularly relevant in cancer.
As reported above, EVOO is not alone in this ability. Supplementing with fish oils have been shown (5) by the University of Gothenburg to significantly increase levels of important gut bacteria that make anti-inflammatory compounds.
But, to come back to the colourful Mediterranean Diet, or Rainbow Diet, it has been shown anyway (6) to increase levels of gut bacteria making anti-inflammatory molecules.
- British Journal of Nutrition; Vol 106; issue 10, Nov 2011;
- Molecular Cell; December 31st 2019; Lipid Droplet Derived Monounsaturated Fatty Acids traffic via PLIN5
- Current Pharmaceutical Design 2011: Molecular Mechanisms of Inflammation
- J Epidemio; lDietary intake of fatty acids and serum C-Reactive protein
- University of Gothenburg; fish oils, gut bacteria and inflammation
- Mediterranean Diet boosts levels of gut bacteria making anti-inflammatory compounds