If you’ve been plagued by stomach pains, you might want to try adding a little olive oil to your diet. According to a new Spanish study, olive oil has been found to be resistant to at least eight strains of stomach bacteria that are known to cause ulcers.
The study, conducted in Seville, Spain, simulated the conditions of the human stomach in order to evaluate olive oil’s ability to fight bacteria. The researchers were particularly interested in studying olive oil’s resistance to H. pylori bacteria, which causes millions of cases of gastric and peptic ulcers each year.
Since previous studies have shown that natural products, such as red wine, green tea, and cranberry juice, rich in antioxidants known as “phenolic compounds,” can inhibit the growth of H. pylori, researcher Conception Romero of the University Hospital of Valme wanted to evaluate the antibacterial properties of olive oil.
Olive oil is one of the few edible vegetable oils that has a high phenolic content. Romero and colleagues found that when exposed to the acidic conditions of the stomach, the phenolic compounds in olive oil remained stable for hours, thus significantly reducing the chance for H. pylori to grow and cause infection in the stomach lining.
Incorporating olive oil into your diet cannot only help treat or prevent stomach ulcers, but it can also help prevent bowel cancer, according to doctors at Oxford University. In fact, in a study of bowel cancer rates in 28 countries, the researchers found that a diet rich in olive oil significantly reduced the risk of contracting the disease.
The study also found that for those individuals with a diet high in meat, olive oil was a crucial factor in protecting them against abnormal cell growth and cancer. Meat, it seems, can increase the amount of a bile acid called “deoxycyclic acid,” which in turn reduces the activity of an enzyme called “diamine oxidase” (DAO). And DAO is thought to regulate cell turnover in the bowel lining.
The researchers found that olive oil seemed to reduce the amount of bile acid and to increase DAO. The important thing to remember in all of this is that olive oil is good for you. It can protect your stomach and your bowels. Plus, it’s good for your heart.
Virgin olive oil is a monosaturated fat, which means that it helps control LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and raises HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
If you haven’t been including olive oil in your diet — but have decided it’s time to get in on the healthy benefits — here’s a few tips about what’s available at the local grocery store. Olive oil comes in a number of varieties, which include:
— Pure: Oil that has undergone some processing and refining.
— Extra Light: Undergoes considerable processing and only retains a very mild olive flavor.
— Virgin: Olive oil from the second pressing of the olives.
— Extra Virgin: Olive oil from the first pressing of the olives.
Extra virgin olive oil is considered the best choice as it is the least processed oil — and it’s the type that is recommended the most thanks to its healthy benefits.