—A Special Report from Victor Marchione, MD
Olive oil is high in vitamins E, K and A. It also has a number of unique micronutrients such as polyphenols, squalene, oleocanthal and triterpenes. But perhaps the most health-boosting nutrient of all in olive oil is oleic acid. Oleic acids, or omega 9 fatty acids, make up about 55% to 85% of the fatty acids in olive oil. Oleic acid is great for your skin, helps to keep your arteries supple, and could even prevent cancer.
A research team based in the U.K. has now determined that the healthy nutrients in olive oil could also protect against colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes ulcers in the lining of the rectum and colon. This can trigger a lot of abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss for those with the condition.
The researchers recruited more than more than 25,000 people, aged 40-65, in Norfolk, U.K., to participate in the study. None of the participants had ulcerative colitis at the start of the study. The research team found that, by the end of the study, 22 participants had developed ulcerative colitis. When they compared the diets of these people to those who didn’t develop the disease, they discovered that those with the highest intake of oleic acid were 90% less likely to develop ulcerative colitis!
The researchers think that oleic acid could help to prevent the development of colitis by blocking chemicals in the bowel that trigger inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes a lot of the symptoms of colitis.
They estimate that around half the cases of ulcerative colitis could be prevented if larger amounts of oleic acid were added to everyone’s diet. How much olive oil should you aim for to gain a protective effect? Two-to-three tablespoons per day should do it.