In developed countries, there is great concern regarding the aging population due to the large number of people involved and the numerous pathologies related to this, such as arteriosclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Alzheimer's Disease, vascular dementia, cognitive deterioration, diabetes and cancer.
Epidemiological studies reveal that a Mediterranean Diet, rich in virgin olive oil, reduces the risk of heart conditions.
The Mediterranean diet, rich in virgin olive oil, improves the primary risk factors of cardiovascular conditions, including the lipid profile, blood pressure, metabolism of glucose and the antithrombotic profile. This diet also positively modulates the endothelial function, inflammation and oxidative stress. Some of these effects can be attributed to the properties found in virgin olive oil, so this product should be included within the definition of the Mediterranean Diet.
Several observational studies carried out on human beings have proven that mono-unsaturated fats can protect against cognitive deterioration, which is related to the aging process and Alzheimer's disease.
It has been demonstrated that the minority components present in virgin olive oil are bioavailable in human beings and have an antioxidant capacity, with their antithrombotic properties favourably modifying arterial function and haemostasis.
In countries such as Spain, Greece and Italy, where the population follows the typical Mediterranean diet, and where virgin olive oil is the main source of fat, cancer rates are lower than in countries to the north of Europe.
The protection properties of virgin olive oil could be more important in the early decades of life, which means its consumption is recommended from pre-puberty onwards.
More recent studies consistently reveal that the Mediterranean Diet, based on the consumption of virgin olive oil, is linked to a healthy aging process and an increased lifespan. However, despite important developments in recent years, further research is necessary to ascertain the specific mechanisms involved in producing these beneficial effects, and the specific contribution made to them by the various components of virgin olive oil.
(Declaration of Jaen signed by more than 300 specialists in Health at the International Conference on Olive Oil and Health held in Jaen on 21-23 October 2004)
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