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The health secret of olive oil

CommunityBlogsBryan Hubbard2007JuneThe health secret of olive oil

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Bryan Hubbard is Publisher and co-editor of WDDTY. He is a former Financial Times journalist. He is a Philosophy graduate of London University. Bryan is also the author of several books, including The Untrue Story of You and Secrets of the Drugs Industry.

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The health secret of olive oil

June 11th 2007, 10:38
20,728 views

Olive oil is good for us, as we all know, but now researchers have finally unlocked its health-giving secrets.

The essential ingredient seems to be a chemical called oleocanthal, a natural antioxidant that is every bit as powerful as painkillers such as ibuprofen.

And the better the quality of the olive oil, the more oleocanthal you get. It's important to buy extra virgin olive oil, and to choose one that has more of a bitter and peppery taste which may induce coughing if you were to drink it neat.

The oleocanthal causes the tickle at the back of the throat - and that's what may be the secret of the famed Mediterranean diet. Oleocanthal is a phenol that helps stop the oil from turning rancid, and it also happens to stops inflammation-causing enzymes from forming.

The health secret of olive oil was discovered by accident. Dr Gary Beauchamp, of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, was tasting some freshly-pressed olive oil when he noticed a burning sensation at the back of his throat. It was exactly the same sensation as the bitterness and burning he experienced when he tested liquid ibuprofen in cold medicines.

"The moment I felt that burn, I saw the whole picture in my head," he said.


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