8 March 2017

We are celebrating International Women’s Day by taking a look at the benefits of olive oil and the Mediterranean diet for women’s health and nutrition.

Every day more and more women worldwide are making the effort to look after their health while enjoying all the pleasures of good eating. Luckily, a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean boring, repetitive, insipid dishes: you can choose from a whole universe of fruit, vegetables, pulses and cereals from the Mediterranean Basin, as well as delicious fresh meat and fish and, of course, extra-virgin olive oil, able to dignify any dish, without exception, with its distinctive flavour—not to mention its endless health benefits that protect and take care of us inside and out.

If we sat down to list all the properties of extra-virgin olive oil for men and women, we’d never finish: it’s our heart’s best ally, it combats bad cholesterol, it aids digestion and it’s packed with essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which make it an amazing anti-ageing tool.

For all these reasons and more, we should all make the most of this highly versatile foodstuff and add it to our diet in as many different ways as possible: for all kinds of frying, in vinaigrettes, sandwiches, salads and even smoothies (have you still not tried adding a dash of extra-virgin olive oil to your green smoothies?). The recommended daily allowance is about 50 g, an amount that can cut the risk of breast cancer by 68%, according to the biggest study on the link between extra-virgin olive oil consumption and breast cancer incidence in Spain (Predimed). Its findings suggest that some polyphenols in extra-virgin olive oil (we are focusing here exclusively on extra-virgin olive oil) can slow down the growth of incipient cancer cells.

But although today’s focus is on women, men and women alike can benefit from making extra-virgin olive oil a regular fixture in their diet. It is also a great ally against osteoporosis, since it has been proven to help absorb calcium and boost mineralisation, even though we often mistakenly believe that it’s only dairy products that can protect our bones. Numerous studies have shown that, compared with the rest of the continent, osteoporosis rates are significantly lower in countries in southern Europe, where the Mediterranean diet is the norm.

What we have, then, is nothing less than a modern version of the fountain of youth! A product that is not only healthy, nutritious, delicious and amazingly versatile, but also a defining hallmark of Mediterranean culture that goes no short way in explaining why these countries have some of the highest life expectancies in the world.

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