Bible believers know that studying the Word of God is good for you. What might come as a surprise is that one particular food discussed in the Bible contains a wide array of hidden health benefits. This is becoming increasingly clear as scientists discover more and more positive health benefits from consuming extra-virgin olive oil.
Sorting Olives in the Galilee
"Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be taken as it is, just by cold pressing the pure oil out of the olive without heavy processing, heat or chemicals," said Rabbi Shmuel Veffer to PNW. "This is one of the many miracles we glean from the olive, one of Israel's seven holy species discussed in the Bible."
Rabbi Veffer and Nili Abrahams are co-founders of Galilee Green, an Israeli company that produces premium boutique olive oil for worldwide distribution. Galilee Green is well aware of the unique health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil and has even included a "Wellness" section highlighting this important information on the company website.
"The Bible is replete with references to the importance of olive oil," continued Rabbi Veffer. "Also, in ancient Egypt, olive oil was so valuable that it was used in the payment of wages."
אֶ֤רֶץ חִטָּה֙ וּשְׂעֹרָ֔ה וְגֶ֥פֶן וּתְאֵנָ֖ה וְרִמּ֑וֹן אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית שֶׁ֖מֶן וּדְבָֽשׁ׃
"A land of wheat, barley, grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey"
To date, extra virgin olive oil has been scientifically found to aid in the prevention of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, various cancers, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease and more. Studies of the benefits of olive oil have come out of some of the most respected scientific research in the world.
Modern-day interest in the health benefits of olive oil increased when it was discovered in the 1940s and 1950s that those who follow the Mediterranean diet decrease their risk of early death from cardiovascular disease by 9 percent. A 2014 follow-up study credited an elevated consumption of olive oil with reducing the risk of cardiovascular events and stroke.
The Mediterranean diet includes a proportionally high consumption of extra-virgin olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish, moderate amounts of dairy consisting mostly of cheese and yogurt, moderate consumption of wine and small amounts of meat.
"It may be counterintuitive to think that adding olive oil to your diet is good for your heart, but that is what science has found," said Rabbi Veffer. "It is proven to be more effective for cardiovascular health than a low-fat diet and also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure."
Olive oil, considered a "good fat", is also linked to a decreased risk of osteoporosis. A study from the Ain Shams University in Egypt found that the monounsaturated fat in olive oil helps the body break down calcium so it can be properly absorbed into bones.
And consuming extra-virgin olive oil is also linked with a lowered risk of Alzheimer's disease and slower cognitive decline as well as a lessening of other neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease, estimated at a rate as high as 13 percent.
Consuming olive oil is also good for mental health. According to Spanish researchers from the University of Navarra, a diet rich in olive oil can help prevent mental illness, and people are 30 percent less likely to suffer from depression when following the Mediterranean diet.