Many of the producers of extra virgin olive oils complain that, on labelling, or on their websites, they can talk in an “understandable” way about how beneficial this product is to health. Despite being a nutritionally unbeatable fat, “we are gagged by the risk of sanctions, as they have already done in certain autonomous communities and simply for that reason, we omit healthy issues,” says one of QvExtra’s associates! It is incomprehensible that in supermarket lines we find a multitude of products with “claims” of being good for heart or lowering cholesterol, “and that in EVOO, which is more than proven than it is, we cannot say”.
That’s why, QvExtra! he has gone directly to the scientific source and asked what he thinks about extra virgin olive oil to one of the most internationally recognized researchers, Dr. Miguel Angel Martínez González, Professor and Head of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the University of Navarra, adjunct professor at Harvard University’s Department of Nutrition , in addition to founder and Principal Investigator of the SUN project (“Seguimiento University of Navarra”) and one of the authors of the prestigious PREDIMED study.
With more than 750 scientific publications in indexed journals and more than 35 published books, Dr. Miguel Angel Martínez-González has allowed us to know his view on the consumption of EVOO (according to him, the healthiest fat) and the benefits he has for the prevention and control of many diseases. Find out!
Do you think Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the healthiest fat?
There is no doubt that Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the healthiest fat. This is not based on a cultural, nostalgic, romantic or geographical preference. This is based on studies that have followed the most rigorous scientific design to demonstrate cause-to-effect relationships.
There is no other food for which beneficial health effects have been demonstrated so strongly in trials with random distribution design. These studies with random cast design are the ones that provide the most substantial evidence in the hierarchy of scientific evidence.
Do you think there are enough scientific studies that allow us to say that this fat helps…
Preventing cardiovascular disease?
The PREDIMED study showed that supplementation with Extra Virgin Olive Oil at a dose of at least four tablespoons per day reduced brain or myocardial infarctions or cardiovascular deaths by 30%. This study included 7447 participants and it has been the largest randomized nutrition clinical trial ever conducted in Europe. But it is also not an isolated study, but has been preceded, accompanied and followed by many other independent and high-quality observational trials and studies that also confirm these results.
In this same study PREDIMED found a reduction of more than 60% for breast cancer. This was only seen when the Mediterranean diet was supplemented with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, but it was not seen when supplemented with nuts. Many case studies and controls, some of them conducted in Spain, also demonstrate a protection of Extra Virgin Olive Oil against breast cancer.
We found a very strong protection many years ago from the Mediterranean diet against the occurrence of diabetes in a study called Seguimiento University of Navarra (SUN) with more than 13.000 volunteers studied in the long term.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the flagship of the Mediterranean diet. And there is growing evidence that the extra virgin variety contains a number of minor elements, especially phenolic compounds, which are bioactive and largely explain this protection.
The above study also saw a 40% reduction in diabetes cases in those taking Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There are many other studies that agree to show that the Mediterranean diet rich in Extra Virgin Olive Oil prevents type 2 diabetes, which is the most common.
Preventing neurological diseases?
We were the first to find a significant improvement in cognitive tests with Extra Virgin Olive Oil supplementation in a Mediterranean diet intervention. This is also consistent with many other observational studies conducted in the United States and other countries.
Preventing … (other)?
There is growing evidence that Extra Virgin Olive Oil can reduce peripheral artery disease in a very strong way, which is the problem of circulation in the legs that diabetics and smokers have. And we also have evidence that it can reduce atrial fibrillation which is one of the main cardiac arrhythmias.
Improving our immune system?
On improving the immune system, there is less scientific evidence, but everything points to the fact that this effect can be achieved with a high consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Would you recommend the widespread use of Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the diet or only raw (for salads)?
(v.g. would it be healthy to replace the butter in the homemade pastries with the extra virgin, or make a stew with Extra Virgin?)
Yes, of course for all culinary uses, also for frying.
Do you think the usual consumption of Extra Virgin Olive Oil protects us against viruses like COVID19?
My bet is yes, but there’s a lack of studies on it. This is because this is a new epidemic and has not yet given time to collect data.
Anything you find important to add?
It is curious to see how the studies we have carried out in Spain, especially the PREDIMED project and the SUN (Universidad de Navarra Monitoring) project are better known in the United States than in Spain. It seems that no one is a prophet in his land.
From QvExtra! and I think that from the whole sector, we thank Dr. Miguel Angel Martínez-González for the clarity and forcefulness with which he has told us about how good the extra virgin is. I hope that these messages warm in our families and in our society, because we really have a treasure that we can be tremendously proud of and because, in addition, it would serve to energize much of our territory, at the same time as to help improve the health of the Spaniards.