Ancient, elegant and a star in the Mediterranean diet, olive oil is among the most health protective foods you can eat. Here’s why. 

If you search nutrient databases for food rich in bioactive polyphenols, unrefined olive oil is in a class of its own. Polyphenols are a large family of non-nutrient compounds called phytochemicals that have healthful properties and include flavonoids, carotenoids and stilbenes. Bioactive polyphenols refer to the antioxidant capability of this family. 

Food for genes.jpg

Research into heart disease suggests that oxidative stress and inflammation are root causes. Antioxidants stabilize the destructive free radicals that cause oxidative stress, which when left uncontrolled can damage the cells and tissues of your arteries. 

Bioactives–abundant in olive oil–can fire up the genes that help quench the free radicals that cause oxidative stress. These bioactives can also interrupt the signaling receptors on cell membranes that, if turned on, set in motion a cascade of inflammation, damaging the lining of arteries. Luteolin, a type of flavonoid found dynamically in olive oil (as well as in Mediterranean herbs such as sage and thyme) is one of those interfering compounds. 

While we still have much to discover about the food-gene capabilities of many bioactives, rest assured that foods replete with these components will be far better for your health and longevity than foods that contain none of them. Buy high quality olive oil. Put it in a cool dark place. Use it. 

Health Tip How to choose an olive oil? Know thy producer!  Now most of us don’t. If you can buy yours from a small vendor – great. If not, learn how to buy olive oil. I recommend the Truth In Olive Oil website. And if you want to know my favorite, it is Milestone Olive Oil from Greece. I know the producer. I know the olive. I know the land. Go forth and seek out the best olive oil you can buy. Your genes and health will thank you.