By Cal Orey
(Excerpt from The Healing Powers of
Revised and Updated)
IN THE LAND OF OLIVE OIL
The same thing happened to me twice, in two different cities. The first time was at a book signing in Cleveland, OH when a small woman came straight up to me and asked, “Guess how old I am.”
She looked like she was about 68 to 72-ish (and I know how this game works), so I guessed low. “Oh gosh, no more than 65,” I responded.
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This woman was stunning. Her skin was perfect and she just radiated health. I said, “Okay, WHAT? What are you doing?”
She told me that she was a first-generation Italian, her family consumed olive oil every day, and her mother even put it right on her skin. Every day!
THE HEALTHIEST DIET ON EARTH
We look at cases like this, as does author-journalist Cal Orey, and wonder how in the world they knew to do that? But the knowledge to know that the rich delicious oil of the olive will keep them younger and more vibrant for more of their days doesn’t come from some laboratory. They don’t do it because some science study told them to.
The knowledge they rely upon, like the rich multi-layered complexity of olive oil itself, comes from the ancient cultural traditions of these thin, healthy people. There is a depth to that cultural understanding, which also forms the centerpiece to what many deem the healthiest diet on earth: the olive oil-based Mediterranean diet.
Could you imagine someone from Spain or Greece exclaiming how they suddenly weren’t going to eat olive oil because some study came out about low fat foods? That would be ridiculous. Or perhaps they’d turn to a low fat dressing because they read that the ratio of hydrogens saturating its fatty acid chain didn’t fit some theory about what should or shouldn’t constitute a healthy oil? Absurd.
The thin healthy people consumed olive oil when we recommended against it, and continue this delicious habit after we’ve embraced it. Their dietary prescriptions haven’t changed precisely because the decision to eat olive oil is an expression of who they are as a people.
There is a steady depth to this form of cultural knowledge, embedded in the steady passage of time across ages. It’s an expression of who they are, who their parents are, extending across time like an outstretched hand to us today, directly from their history, culture, and tradition.
Because of this solid foundation, you can count on it to work for your good health, just as well as it has worked for theirs.
After all, it has done so since before history was written down, and won’t change in the next five years either. The impact on your health will be the same as has been felt for millennia. And when you look at the results over this expanse of time, you see that olive oil consumption is clearly associated with low weight, healthy hearts and longer lives.
The people of Crete, for example, as I know and Orey pointed out in the first edition of The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, have some of the highest longevity rates on Earth, some of the lowest cardiac mortality rates, cancer rates, and all with the highest per capita consumption of olive oil. Ask them about their amazing heart healthy diet and they’ll shrug because they’re not on a diet. They’re just living their lives as they always have.
It’s funny, too, that the remarkable health benefits of olive oil have been known to people in the Mediterranean region for millennia, but the rest of the world is just now catching up with them. With each month, it seems, new scientific research continually re-confirms the many ways in which it benefits our bodies.
OLIVE OIL, THE VERSATILE FAT
Orey, once again, in The Healing Powers of Olive Oil, Revised and Updated, with the greatest of ease discusses in detail, the fats in olive oil that we feared for so long turn out to be the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated variety, which today’s science confirms can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
The antioxidants found within the deep green oil also work inside your body to fight the harmful free radicals. On your salad, in your sauté, or simply drizzled over your fish, this helps to prevent cellular damage and, ultimately, the development of cancer itself.
Not only are these amazing fats good for you on their own, but they can also help your body absorb the other healthful nutrients in your food, such as the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. In other words, if you include olive oil on any of your foods, you get one health enhancement from the olive oil, and then a turbo boost from the added nutrients you absorb from your salad.
And the cultural habit of applying olive oil both inside and out, for softer, smoother, less desiccated skin has been known and practiced for thousands of years. Now our western science confirms that the dermal application of olive oil leaves your skin less dry, less wrinkled, and less susceptible to DNA damage caused by exposure to UV light.
THE SUPERFOOD THAT’S GOOD AS GOLD
So whether you are a person who needs science to quantify and verify what you see in order to believe it, or someone who trusts what healthy cultures are doing and can apply those habits to their own lives, the jury is pretty much in on olive oil. It’s great for you!
And the good news is that Cal Orey’s “The Healing Powers of Olive Oil: A Complete Guide to Nature's Liquid Gold, Revised and Updated” clearly lays out more research and more reasons why olive oil (also paired with other healing oils) is healthy, how you can use it, which kind is the best, where you can find it, and many delicious ways you can incorporate it into your daily life, for added flavor, better health, and even beauty! Orey gives kudos to olive oil--and people of all ages will benefit from her words of wisdom.
--Dr. Will Clower, CEO Mediterranean Wellness and award winning author of The Fat Fallacy, and Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight