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Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Cholesterol

The Mediterranean diet, in which olive oil is the primary source of fat, is associated with a low mortality for cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease is the term for all types of diseases that affect the heart or blood vessels, including coronary heart disease (CHD), which can cause heart attacks and stroke. CHD is a major cause of death worldwide. It's the term that describes what happens when your heart's blood supply is blocked or interrupted by a build-up of fatty substances in the coronary arteries. Over time, the walls of your arteries can become furred up with fatty deposits. This process is known as atherosclerosis and the fatty deposits are called atheroma.

There are many scientific studies that suggest that olive oil helps prevent and treat heart disease. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels while raising HDL ("good") cholesterol levels. But do we really know what is cholesterol?

Cholesterol

First, it is important to understand that cholesterol isn't all bad. In fact, cholesterol is an essential fat. It provides stability in every cell of your body. It’s a soft, fat-like, waxy substance found in the bloodstream and in all your body's cells. It is normal to have cholesterol. Given that it composes about 30% of all animal cell membranes, cholesterol is required to build and maintain membranes and modulates membrane fluidity. Within the cell membrane, cholesterol also functions in intracellular transport, cell signaling and nerve conduction. It is also the precursor molecule for the synthesis of vitamin D and all steroid hormones.

So it really is a very important part of our system. Cholesterol comes from two sources: your body and food. Your liver and other cells in your body make about 75 percent of blood cholesterol. The other 25 percent comes from the foods you eat. Since fats don’t mix with water, they can’t circulate in your bloodstream until they’re tucked inside a package of proteins. These packages, called lipoproteins, are named according to the type of fat they carry and the ratio of fat to protein.

LDL Chlesterol

LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins. It carries more cholesterol than any other type of lipoprotein. LDLs are responsible for delivering cholesterol to tissues throughout your body, where it’s used for vital jobs described previously. When levels of LDLs in your bloodstream get too high, your risk of coronary artery disease goes up, which is why LDLs are called bad cholesterol.

But it gets even worse as LDLs encounter free radicals, result of oxidative stress that we've explained in one of our previous blogs. When that happens, the LDLs -- now called oxidized LDLs -- are damaged, which triggers inflammation and attracts white blood cells called macrophages. Macrophages engulf oxidized LDLs, forming new fat-filled cells, which aggregate, stick to blood vessel walls and become plaque. Oxidized LDLs significantly contribute to the development of atherosclerosis! (1)

HDL Cholesterol

High-density lipoproteins, or HDLs, consist of more proteins than cholesterol. They’re called good cholesterol because specialized proteins in HDLs pick up LDLs and carry them back to the liver, where they’re recycled as bile or eliminated. In addition to this reverse cholesterol transport system, enzymes in HDLs have an antioxidant effect, which may prevent LDLs from being oxidized. HDLs also help prevent cardiovascular disease by relaxing blood vessels and having an anti-inflammatory effect. Higher levels of HDLs circulating in your bloodstream are associated with a lower risk for heart disease.

Resarchers believe that HDL can also easily be modified with oxidation process, connecting with free radicals. This kind of remodelind of HDL leads to dysfunctional HDL without their anti-atherogenic activities.

And here’s where Extra Virgin Olive Oil comes in…

EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL AND CHOLESTEROL

It has been reported by several studies that the extra virgin olive oil as an antiatherogenic effect. This effect is related to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects exerted by various components, especially monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) and polyphenols (2), (3).Phenolic compounds, especially hydroxytyrosol and oleuropein, inhibit LDL and HDL oxidation.

As we already described in our earlier blogs, the existence of these phenolic compounds is reflected in one of most prized characteristics of Extra virgin olive oil – Bitterness & Pungency!

Consumption of olive oil with high phenolic content provides the greatest benefits by increasing HDL cholesterol levels (4) and reducing the oxidative damage on lipids!

With its healthy fats and disease-fighting antioxidants, olive oil is a wholesome addition to your diet. While no official dosing instructions exist, just one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil every morning will make a difference.

Because so many factors contribute to heart disease, cholesterol isn't everything. People with normal cholesterol levels can have heart disease. But nevertheless if you have high cholesterol or low HDL levels, take steps to increase HDL cholesterol such as:

  1. Choose a healthy diet
  2. Reduce alcohol consumption
  3. Give up smoking
  4. Keep to your correct weight
  5. Do exercise

Lifestyle changes can make a big difference for most people.

And remember – BITTERNESS & PUNGENCY is what You are looking for!!


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