Effects of olive oil consumption on human health

The Mediterranean diet is known to be the healthiest diet in the world. The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid underlines the principal food groups. Each of these individual food groups offers some, but not all, of the nutrients one needs. All the groups are necessary for a healthy diet. The basic products of the Mediterranean diet are grains, fruit and vegetables, legumes and nuts, olive oil and olives, dairy products like cheese and yoghurt, and fish. The Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, daibetes, liver diseases, autoimmune diseases and digestive system diseases.

Hydrocarbon squalene, present in high percentages in olive oil (0.8-12g/kg in virgin olive oil) is known to possess antilipidemic, antioxidant, and membrane stabilizing properties. It is directly involved in the lipid metabolism as a regulatory agent in cholestrol metabolism. Squalene has been shown to suppress the growth of tumor and to inactivate carcinogenic substances. Squalene is believed to have a favourable effect on the skin by reducing the incidence of melanomas.

Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, oleic acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega 6, and omega 3.

Regular consumption of olive oil decreases both systolic (maximum) and diastolic (minimum) blood pressure.

Furthermore, olive oil plays a key role in foetal development during pregnancy and a shortage may have pernicious effects on the baby's subsequent development. It has been demonstrated that the post-natal development of babies of mothers who consumed olive oil when pregnant is better in terms of height, weight, behaviour and psychomotor reflexes.