Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Olive Oil Polyphenols Reduce Bad Cholesterol and Plaque Formation

A new study reveals polyphenols in olive oil can reduce cardiovascular risks by decreasing bad cholesterol levels and atherogenicity.

By ISABEL PUTINJA on July 20, 2015 from the Olive Oil Times
The results of a recent study have again shown that the polyphenols found in olive oil reduce cardiovascular risks.
Published this month in the Journal of Nutrition, the study “Olive Oil Polyphenols Decrease LDL Concentrations and LDL Atherogenicity in Men in a Randomized Controlled Trial” was conducted by a team of Spanish, Finnish and German researchers.
SEE MORE: Olive Oil Health BenefitsThe objective of the study was to determine if consuming olive oil could have an effect on LDL concentrations and reduce them. LDLs are low-density lipoproteins, better known as “bad” cholesterol. High LDL levels are associated with an increased risk of blocked arteries and heart attack.
As part of the study, 25 healthy European men aged 20 to 59 were asked to consume doses of olive oil which were either low in polyphenols (2.7mg/kg) or high in polyphenols (366mg/kg) for a three-week period.
Tests were then taken on the volunteers to determine the effects of the olive oil polyphenols on plasma LDL concentrations and atherogenicity, i.e. the formation of abnormal fatty or lipid masses in arterial walls.
Those who consumed olive oil high in polyphenols experienced a 12 percent reduction in LDL concentrations while those taking the low dose had only a 5 percent decrease.
The study tested on healthy young men concluded that the polyphenols in olive oilcan reduce cardiovascular risks by decreasing bad cholesterol levels and atherogenicity.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring micronutrients found not only in olive oil but also many other plant foods. Their antioxidant abilities can play an important role in the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Fact Check: 3 Common Myths About Olive Oil Quality

Let's dispel some confusion about three fundamental characteristics of liquid gold.
By YLENIA GRANITTO on February 16, 2016 Filed in Olive Oil World
Olive oil is tightly woven in the culture of Mediterranean populations and, though in recent decades we have witnessed an exceptional evolution in production methods as often happens to activities interconnected with ancient traditions, it is also subject to a series of die hard clich├ęs.
We often hear someone asking: “That olive oil is so spicy. Will it not be too acidic?” Or, “It has a wonderful color. Surely it is delicious.”
Let’s dispel some confusion about three fundamental characteristics of liquid gold to make the most of its benefits and encourage careful and scrupulous producers. Here are some of the most common myths:
1. Acidity can be perceived by tasting: False.
The acidity is due to free fatty acids present in olive oil and it is expressed in percentage of oleic acid. This parameter can be defined only by laboratory testing and it is odorless and tasteless, so you cannot perceive it by tasting and you must never confuse it with the bitter taste and the pungent sensations that are distinctive attributes of a good EVOO. In most cases, the more these features are pronounced, the lower the acidity.
Pungency and bitterness are produced by phenolic compounds responsible for the extraordinary health qualities of extra virgin olive oil, such as oleocanthal — an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor substance named by researchers from Latin: oleo=olive, canth=sting, al=aldehyde for the “stinging” flavor it gives to fresh EVOO.
2. The color is indicative of quality: False.
EVOO can have different shades of color ranging from golden yellow to dark green that depend on the olive cultivars, the degree of maturation of the olives and factors relating to the production processes. Color is not an indication of quality.
That’s why sensory analysis of olive oil requires a special cobalt blue glass, to avoid the influence of color on the all-important sensory assessment.
3. Unfiltered olive oil is more genuine and healthy than filtered olive oil: True and False.
The olive oil we obtain at the end of the extraction process is a product rich in particles of olives – pulp and stone. If not filtered, these tiny pieces initially induce a slight increase of nutritional content.
As time goes by, however, they will reduce, even dramatically, the shelf life of EVOO because they will sediment on the bottom and accelerate the oxidation and the consequent loss of healthful elements. Filtering is important to maintain stability and preserve the healthy qualities.
It is important to clarify that the sensory analysis is the only reliable way to assess quality of EVOO. Only a few features are detectable by laboratory testing, but the condition of extra-virginity can be perceived only according to our olfactory, retro-nasal and gustatory perceptions. Panel opinion is in fact an essential and fundamental element for evaluation in competitions and certifications in general.
In short, no laboratory, nor any machine has so far been able to replace human senses in the analysis of EVOO.

Article by YLENIA GRANITTO / February 16, 2016 from Olive Oil World:

Sunday, February 7, 2016

How olive oil explains Greece’s problems


The hills of Kalamata, on the southern coast of Greece's Peloponnese peninsula, produce some of the best olives in the world. When pressed, they produce an oil that is almost fluorescent green and sometimes described as "liquid gold."
But after much of that oil is pressed in Greek processing facilities, tanker trucks come to take it straight to the sea. In 2012, 60 percent of Greece's olive oil output was shipped to Italy. There, it is packaged in Italian bottles with Italian labels, and then sent around the world. And most of the profits go back to Italy -- according to consultancy McKinsey, Italy captures an extra 50 percent premium on the price of Greek oil.
Why does this happen? A segment by NPR's Planet Money described some of the issues that two Greek entrepreneurs faced when they tried to export their country's oil.
First, they couldn't find anyone in Greece to make a bottle -- they had to have the bottle made in Italy. They had difficulty getting loans to pay for the bottles, and then they were hit with the taxes. Due to Greece's economic issues, the government asked businesses to estimate and pay the taxes they would owe in 2016 ahead of time -- in 2015.
The story hints at some of the more persistent problems in the Greek economy, besides its high-profile and tragic conflict with its European creditors.
Wherever you stand on Greece and Germany, there's certainly plenty of blame to go around. Greece's European creditors continue to negotiate for austerity measures and oppose forgiving Greece's debts, against the counseling of the International Monetary Fund. Under seemingly endless debt and austerity, Greece's economy has shrunk by about a quarter over the last five years, and unemployment is around 25 percent.
But Greece's economic misery is also, to a certain extent, self-imposed. Beyond Europe,  there are many things that Greece might to do to improve its struggling economy by promoting native industry and unwinding onerous restrictions, as James Surowiecki recently argued in the New Yorker.
Many segments of the economy are excessively regulated: A Surowiecki points out, bakeries can only sell bread in a few standardized weights. Other red tape prevents people from starting new businesses and foreigners from investing in Greece from abroad.
The fact that Greece holds only a 28 percent share of the global market for "Greek Feta cheese" and 30 percent of U.S. market for "Greek-style yogurt" also shows a clear commercial opportunity, McKinsey said in its report.
Greece's agricultural sector has a lot of potential. Greece is the third largest olive oil producer worldwide, and is nearly on par with Italy, which is number two after Spain. In fact, Costco changed the source of its Kirkland brand olive oil from Italy to Greece earlier this year after a disease ravaged the Italian crop.
Olive oil alone represents nearly a tenth of Greece's agricultural output, according to Eurostat. Greece also exports honey, wine, fruit and vegetables around the world, and could do much more. Beyond agriculture, some of Greece's most promising sectors are generic pharmaceuticals, aquaculture, elder care, cargo and logistics transport, waste management and tourism, says McKinsey. Tourism alone accounted for over 17 percent of Greece's economy in 2014. Yet, as Surowiecki points out, most tourists in Greece are Greek rather than foreigners, suggesting a huge opportunity.
What would Greece need to take advantage of these opportunities? Financial stability, for one. The credit freeze earlier this year has made life for Greece's food industries even more difficult, freezing imports of necessary farm inputs like fertilizers, pesticides and fuel. Beyond that, Greece needs infrastructure, including larger and more modern production and packaging facilities to take advantage of its agricultural capacity, says McKinsey.
Easier regulation could also help Greek businesses compete internationally. Nearly half of all Greek manufacturers have fewer than 50 employees, Surowiecki says, suggesting that manufacturing is nowhere near economies of scale. And Greece's agricultural units are almost five times smaller than the E.U. average, according to McKinsey.
With a debt at 175 percent of its economy and unemployment approaching 30 percent, things will continue to be tragic for the Greeks. But even in Greece's economic troubles, there are big opportunities.
Ana Swanson is a reporter for Wonkblog specializing in business, economics, data visualization and China. She also works on Know More, Wonkblog's social media channel.