What if you could relieve joint pain and muscle aches with real food?
By now you’ve probably realized I’m a big fan of eating fat. But did you know that eating the right fats can actually help you reduce inflammation better than some over-the-counter drugs?
Today we’re going to take a look at one the surprising benefits of one my favorite fats, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
The monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) in EVOO help fuel your muscles, keep you feeling full longer, and can also reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. And EVOO packs an even bigger therapeutic punch that can help you improve workout performance and recovery.
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL IS A NATURAL ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Pure, authentic EVOO is an optimal food for health nuts and athletes alike. EVOO contains more than 30 bioactive powerhouses called phenols, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The best-known of these is oleocanthal, which has effects almost identical to very low-dose ibuprofen. (But better, since EVOO is real food, doesn’t take a toll on your liver, and – most importantly – tastes fantastic.)
Aches and pains may diminish performance, but inflammation also plays a major role in more serious problems. Chronic inflammation underlies many medical conditions—cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer, to name a few.
The oleocanthal in EVOO has been shown to improve inflammatory markers in each of these conditions. (In scientific terms, a “marker” is a specific measurement associated with a disease.) Oleocanthal also helps reduce the inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases, in which the immune system attacks and damages the body’s own tissues. (For example, rheumatoid arthritis.)
In Mediterranean countries, with their diets rich in EVOO, vegetables, fruit, and fish, people have lower rates of chronic inflammatory disease. Researchers believe that a daily dose of EVOO, over the long term, helps protect against inflammatory conditions.
DOES YOUR EVOO MAKE YOU COUGH?
Mine does, and that’s a sign it’s working! The “canth” part of oleocanthal means “sting.” The “sting” is a prickly sensation in the back of the throat. Some people describe it as “peppery.” You’ll feel it—and you might even cough a little—when sampling a high-phenolic EVOO straight from a tasting glass or a spoon. If you’re looking for the freshest, highest-quality EVOO, you want to make sure it packs a punch.
But EVOO’s health-promoting powers have a shelf life. In fact, recent studies show that oleocanthal and the other phenols in EVOO lose about 40% of their potency after only 6 months. And most olive oil sold in supermarkets is already 6 to 9 months old by the time it reaches the US. (Not to mention, much of what is on supermarket shelves may be adulterated with soy or other vegetable oil—or it may even be fake. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about the “Great Olive Oil Scandal.”)
So what’s a high-performance dieter to do?
Medical professionals like Dr. Mary Flynn at UC Davis recommend sourcing oils from the most recent global harvest in order to obtain the freshest, highest-phenolic EVOO. Here is the go-to source we use at home for independently lab-certified EVOO, imported quarterly from the world’s latest harvest: Fresh Pressed Olive Oil
A generous splash of EVOO will not only intensify the flavor and fat-burning potential of your meals, it may also help with recovery and guard you against inflammatory diseases.
LEARN HOW TO DROP 20 POUNDS IN 40 DAYS WITH REAL FOOD
- Baiano A, Gambacorta G, Terracone C, Previtali MA, Lamacchia C, La Notte E. Changes in phenolic content and antioxidant activity of Italian extra-virgin olive oils during storage. J Food Sci. 2007;74(2):177–183.
- Barros CR, Cezaretto A, Curti MLR, et al. Realistic changes in monounsaturated fatty acids and soluble fibers are able to improve glucose metabolism. Diab Metab Syndr. 2014;6(136):1–8.
- Berg JM, Tymoczko JL, Stryer L. Biochemistry, 5th ed. New York: WH Freeman, 2002.
- Covas MI, Nyyssönen K, Poulsen HE, at al. The effect of polyphenols in olive oil on heart disease risk factors: a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med. 2006;145:333–341.
- Flynn M, Wang S. Olive oil as medicine: the effect on blood lipids and lipoproteins. UC Davis Olive Center Report. March 2015.
- Frankel DM, Mailer RJ, Shoemaker CF, Wang SC, Flynn JD. Tests indicate that imported “extra virgin” olive oil often fails international and USDA standards. UC Davis Olive Center Report. July 2010.
- Handschin C, Spiegelman BM. The role of exercise and PGC1-alpha in inflammation and chronic disease. Nature. 2008;454(7203):463-469.
- Hensrud D for Mayo Clinic. Nutrition and healthy eating. February 25, 2014. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/food-andnutrition/
- Lucas L, Russell A, Keast R. Molecular mechanisms of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory benefits of virgin olive oil and the phenolic compound oleocanthal. Curr Pharm Design. 2011;17:754-768.
- Parkinson L, Keast R. Oleocanthal, a phenolic derived from virgin olive oil: a review of the beneficial effects on inflammatory disease. In J Mol Sci. 2014;15:12323–12334.
- Salas-Salvado J, Bulio M, Babio N, et al, for the PREDIMED Study Investigators. Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with the Mediterranean diet. Diabetes Care. 2011;34(1):14–19.
What’s your favorite way to work Extra Virgin Olive Oil into your diet? Comment Below and let me know!