I use one particular olive oil for cooking and another extra-virgin olive oil to mix with some balsamic vinegar for my salads. Olive oil, as the staple source of fatty acids in the Mediterranean diet, has also been heavily researched for its health benefits especially in comparison to other sources of fat such as butter, corn or soy oil.
On April 20, a study in BMC Genomics was published that found that olive oil eaten at breakfast modified gene expression in patients with metabolic syndrome (1). The breakfast caused the changes in mononuclear cells after intake of the olive oil and repressed pro-inflammatory genes (1).
The study was performed on 20 patients in a double-blind randomized trial (1). The researchers noted that many of the genes were also implicated in type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia and obesity (1).
The study adds to evidence that olive oil helps reduce inflammation unlike other oils such as butter (2) and, thereby, adds to the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease (3).
1. Camargo A, Ruano J, Fernandez JM, Parnell LD, Jimenez A, Santos-Gonzalez M, Marin C, Perez-Martinez P, Uceda M, Lopez-Miranda J, Perez-Jimenez F. Gene expression changes in mononuclear cells from patients with metabolic syndrome after acute intake of phenol-rich virgin olive oil. BMC Genomics. 2010 Apr 20;11(1):253. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Bellido C, López-Miranda J, Blanco-Colio LM, Pérez-Martínez P, Muriana FJ, Martín-Ventura JL, Marín C, Gómez P, Fuentes F, Egido J, Pérez-Jiménez F. Butter and walnuts, but not olive oil, elicit postprandial activation of nuclear transcription factor kappaB in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy men.Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6):1487-91.
3. Bellido C. Perez-Jimenez F, Alvarez de Cienfuegos G, Badimon L, Barja G, Battino M, Blanco A, Bonanome A, Colomer R, Corella-Piquer D, Covas I, Chamorro-Quiros J, Escrich E, Gaforio JJ, Garcia Luna PP, Hidalgo L, Kafatos A, Kris-Etherton PM, Lairon D, Lamuela-Raventos R, Lopez-Miranda J, Lopez-Segura F, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Mata P, Mataix J, Ordovas J, Osada J, Pacheco-Reyes R, Perucho M, Pineda-Priego M, Quiles JL, Ramirez-Tortosa MC, Ruiz-Gutierrez V, Sanchez-Rovira P, Solfrizzi V, Soriguer-Escofet F, de la Torre-Fornell R, Trichopoulos A, Villalba-Montoro JM, Villar-Ortiz JR, Visioli F. International conference on the healthy effect of virgin olive oil. Eur J Clin Invest. 2005 Jul;35(7):421-4.