The Disease-Preventive Power of the Mediterranean DietJuly 2005
By Dale Kiefer
The Mediterranean diet has well-substantiated health- and longevity-promoting effects.
Critical components of this diet that may account for the impressive benefits described in scientific studies include potent antioxidants from phytonutrients, the critical omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, and health-enhancing polyphenols derived from olive fruit.
While the remarkable health benefits associated with antioxidant-rich phytonutrients and the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA are well established, emerging research supporting the benefits of olive polyphenols is equally impressive. Particularly striking is the study just described, in which a combination of EPA/DHA and hydroxytyrosol-rich olive polyphenols produced synergistic benefitsin controlling inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Hydroxytyrosol, a potent antioxidant, is the major polyphenol present in olive extract. This and other olive polyphenols are most concentrated in water-soluble olive fruit extract, not in the oil itself. Concentrated, standardized extracts of olive fruit enable health-conscious people to consume high concentrations of these powerful nutrients without ingesting servings of extra-virgin olive oil containing inadvisably large amounts of dietary fat and calories.
Extensive research strongly supports phytonutrients, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and olive polyphenols as critical nutrients that likely account for many of the remarkable anti-aging and health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.
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