Olive Oil’s Natural Anti-Inflammatory Effects

Cooking can quickly become a nightmare for anyone trying to control their rosacea symptoms : finding the foods that won’t cause a rash is a real challenge. Not only finding triggering foods is challenging, finding the foods that will help your symptoms is even harder.

It seems that Extra Virgin Olive Oil has some great anti-inflammatory effects and as rosacea is an inflammatory disease, cooking with olive oil is a great way to help you with your symptoms. I’ve found that cooking with olive oil not only tastes great, but is also good for my skin : much better than cooking with butter for example.

For a little more details, here are the findings from a study in Nature:

A substance found in extra-virgin olive oil has anti-inflammatory effects similar to those of ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), reports a study in Nature (2005; 437:45–6). The presence of anti-inflammatory activity in olive oil might help explain why its use has been linked to heart disease prevention and improvements in people with arthritis.

Oleocanthol, the substance isolated from extra-virgin olive oil, inhibited two enzymes involved in the process of inflammation (COX-1 and COX-2) but had no effect on a third inflammation-inducing enzyme (lipoxygenase). This pattern of activity is identical to that of ibuprofen. It is interesting that, while oleocanthol and ibuprofen do not have similar chemical structures, both of these compounds cause a strong stinging sensation in the throat.

It has long been suspected that olive oil inhibits inflammation. In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, supplementing with about 4 teaspoons per day of olive oil for 12 weeks reduced pain and morning stiffness and improved laboratory measures of disease activity. Eating a Mediterranean diet, which is high in olive oil, has also been found to improve symptoms and reduce inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis. In another study, the combination of extra-virgin olive oil and fish oil was more effective than fish oil alone in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Eating a Mediterranean diet also appears to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Part of this protective effect may be due to other components of the Mediterranean diet, such as vegetables, fruits, and legumes. In addition, the high concentration of mono-unsaturated fatty acids in olive oil may be beneficial for the heart, as these compounds inhibit the heart-damaging oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Inflammation also plays a key role in the development of hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis); also, anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin are known to help prevent heart disease. Inhibition of inflammation may, therefore, be another mechanism by which olive oil helps prevent heart disease. Moreover, unlike aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs, olive oil does not damage the stomach or promote the development of peptic ulcers.

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