It’s well known that olive oil offers incredible health benefits, thus bearing the title “Queen of oils”. It helps with improving longevity and immunological conditions, protecting against osteoporosis, improving cardiovascular wellness, enhancing neurological health, combating diabetes, and even helping fight against the effects of air pollution. But, did you know that it also holds anti-cancer benefits?
According to a research done by Paul Breslin, professor of nutritional sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, and David Foster and Onica LeGendre of Hunter College, oleocanthal kills cancerous cells in the laboratory by rupturing vesicles that store the cell’s waste.
Unlike chemotherapy, olive oil compounds kill only the cancerous cells without affecting the healthy ones. It causes apoptosis, which in general takes approximately 16-24 hours to happen, but the oil does that within 30 minutes to an hour, thanks to the oleocanthal found in olive oil.
This is now a subject of an anti-cancer study performed by nutritional science and cancer biology researchers at Rutgers and Hunter’s College in New York City.
Researchers have discovered that the oleocanthal destroys the cancer cells’ “waste centers” or “lysosomes,” which are larger than healthy cells, but are also more fragile. Lysosomes serve as a recycling center for a cells waste with cancer cells. Oleocanthal was said to “puncture” the lysosome vesicles causing the cancerous cell’s own enzymes to kill it. After the oleocanthal puts the healthy cells to sleep for a day, they rebound like nothing happened.
Even though scientists were aware that olive oil can destroy cancer cells, this rapid apoptosis is something completely new to them. What was more interesting, cancer cells were being killed by their own enzymes. This worked on all cancer types.
Keep in mind that Extra-virgin oils are of higher quality, as the olives used to make them are processed within 24 hours of picking. This is important because the longer olives go between picking and processing, the higher their free fatty acid content. That’s why extra-virgin olive oil can have up to 0.8%, while virgin oils 2%.
Other important things you should know about oils are:
- Unfiltered oils have tiny particles of olive flesh in them, which reduces shelf life, and may appear cloudy if those particles haven’t settled at the bottom of the bottle
- Pure olive oil or simply olive oilare below extra-virgin and virgin standards and are heavily processed to remove flavors and aromas.
- “Light,” “lite” and “extra-light”are purely marketing terms used on highly refined oils that refer to mild flavor and/or color, not reduced calorie content
- “Product of Italy”means the oil was processed in Italy, not necessarily that the olives were grown there.
- High-quality artisan oils have more distinct flavors, and are more expensive.
- Store olive oil away from heat and light in a cool, dark area to prevent oxidative damage.