The scientific community endorse virgin olive oils benefits for health in the Congress O_LIVE!

The III International Congress about Virgin Olive Oil, Olive Grove and Health O_LIVE!, organized by the University of Jaén and funded by the Provincial Government of Jaén, has been successful revealing scientific research that relate virgin olive oils to human health and the environmental one. The event, held the last weekend in the Iberian Museum of Jaén, has achieved a great impact on scientific fields as well as among the media.

Around thirty researchers and professionals offered presentations and scientific oral communications to more than 200 people who attended the congress, including health staff, nutritionists, researchers, chefs or olive oil producers coming from all the corners of Spain and other countries such as Japan or Germany.

The three conferences of the congress have stand out by relevance of scientific data offered and the great interest provoked among attendees, which gave rise to long and intense discussions in all the tables. Moreover, there was interest in the Consensus Table dealing with the III Declaration of Jaén about Olive Oil and Health, in which the scientific document was approved. It will be published soon on an international scientific review. “This document will become the main legacy of this congress, because it will be the reference in this field for next years and allow to disseminate worldwide the last scientific evidence linking virgin olive oils with health”, explains José Juan Gaforio, Professor of Immunology from the University of Jaén and the director of the Congress O_LIVE!

The summary of the CONSENSUS REPORT includes the following points:

1. The Mediterranean diet pattern has become a model of healthy diet as well as a high-quality dietary standard in preventive medicine. Olive oil, in particular virgin olive oils, is a main element and the most important feature of the Mediterranean diet. It is important to highlight that, without using olive oils, considering as a “Mediterranean diet” another dietary pattern would mean a rather illogical definition.

2. One of the great global challenges for public health is the obesity pandemic never before seen. There are enough studies which provide documentary evidence that diets using as a culinary fat virgin olive oils, consumed moderately and in a regular way, reduce the body-mass index. Given that virgin olive oils consumption is not widespread in most countries, it is critical the realization of long-term randomized clinical trials in which the maintenance of their long-term benefits is documented.

3. The most important risk factor in the world as a determinant of cardiovascular disease and loss of years due to disability is hypertension. Randomized clinical trials existing indicate that virgin olive oils reduce the blood pressure, so their consumption could help to reduce the burden of global cardiovascular disease and drug spending, one of the main components of increasing care cost.

4. It is proved that, virgin olive oils are involved in cardiovascular health thanks to their anti-atherosclerotic effects, boosting endothelial function, restoring the blood pressure, acting on plasma lipoproteins, due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and, as modulators of gene expression on different tissues, which allows to keep a suitable homeostasis.

5. It is proved that outstanding benefits derived from virgin olive oils consumption, in the context of a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet pattern, protect against cardiovascular events. However, the type of olive oil must be considered when making recommendations to the population, because we can give additional benefits when the phenolic content of virgin olive oils is high, in particular on LDL oxidation. It must be established in which people and under what pathophysiological conditions, a moderate and regular consumption of virgin olive oils, can be especially beneficial in the field of personalized recommendations.

6. Epidemiological studies agree on that a diet, where virgin olive oil is the main source of fat, is associated with a chemopreventive effect. Studies carried out on animals, suggest that the chemopreventive effect that specifically own polyphenols from olives and, a lot of in vitro studies, are clarifying mechanisms of action involved. Nevertheless, relevance of these data, it is often weakened by the use of non-physiological concentrations as well as doses. Although it is almost impossible to carry out studies on humans about the chemopreventive capacity of an unique nutrient, gathered remarks are enough consistent to advice the consumption of virgin olive oils as main source of fat with the purpose of reducing cancer risk.

7. Not only intervention studies carried out on humans but also observational ones, prove that the Mediterranean diet is associated with reduction of breast cancer incidence, specially postmenopausal breast cancer. Moreover, observational studies suggest that, virgin olive oils, can play, themselves, a specific role on postmenopausal breast cancer prevention.

8. It has been suggested that the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of colorectal cancer; however, evidence is limited to observational studies on humans and, till now, we do not have enough evidence about the potential role that specifically virgin olive oils could have on colorectal cancer prevention.

9. Although virgin olive oils have the potential of reducing the risk of developing some kinds of cancers (primary prevention), we do not own clinical evidence proving that they can affect long-term pre-malignant or cancerous damage once they have already appeared (treatment).

10. Different preclinical experimental studies have confirmed important anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulating effects, not only in virgin olive oils but also in some o their bioactive compounds, in autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus and sclerosis. Therefore, virgin olive oils consumption and their minority compounds could have a great importance in nutritional therapy, specially in immunocompromised patients, being and alternative for prevention and treatment of different immuno-inflammatory diseases. However, it is necessary to carry out convenient clinical studies on humans to confirm these effects, as well as establishing dosage-dependency of their effects.

11. Nowadays, chemical pollution is one of the main determinant of morbidity and mortality in the world and represents an increasingly important threaten for humans and the environment. The use of large amounts of thousands of chemical substances on industrial and farming production, has provoked environmental pollution and a larger inclusion of these ones in the food chain, which involves food pollution, that can pose serious risks for health due to human exposure in the world. In the last two decades, before being sold in western countries those products which are being regulated, like pesticides, food additives or veterinary drugs, previous evaluations, through strict toxicological tests. On the contrary, this is not the case of food pollutants, so measures should be taken in order to reduce or prevent pollution on food. Although there is no evidence that chemical pollution can represent a health problem regarding olive oils production, we must change the social response towards a sustainable production of olive oil, included the organic one, to reduce the possible chemical burden associated to its production.

12. The use of pesticides is not necessary for combating pests and diseases in olive groves with the purpose of increasing olive oil production in terms of quantity and quality. Nevertheless, an unsuitable use of pesticides without observing good farming practices can be a risk for human health and the environment. Although theoretically pesticidal waste can remain in olive oil, the last coordinated programme from the European Union for pesticidal waste in food (2015), showed that nearly only 0.1% of olive oil samples analyzed exceeded maximun limits of waste currently in force. This indicates that it is unlikely that olive oil consumption is a concern for consumers health by this reason.

13. Independent of previous data, doubts on the population could appear concerning if nutritional benefits of olive oils compensate potential risk derived from the presence of a minimun quantity of pesticidal waste. In order to improve people confidence in olive oils consumption, it has been implemented in the European Union an integrated approach for managing pests aimed at reducing the use of chemical pesticides and make a sustainable use of these substances without damaging crops. This approach is essential because it will help to optimize food production and reduce risks for humans and the environment, and everything will contribute to achieve a holistic concept of healthy food.

14. A food is healthy not only but its benefits proved for human health, but also we should consider that the whole process for its extraction would have to be environmentally-friendly and even promoter of environmental health. Virgin olive oils, unlike other vegetal edible fats, obey this holistic concept of healthy food.

By his behalf, Manuel Fernández, deputy of Promotion and Tourism from the Provincial Government of Jaén, highlights the very high level of presentations and professionals who have given the talks, such as Miguel Ángel Martínez-González, Professor from the University of Harvard; Manuel Anguita, president of the Spanish Society of Cardiology; Jesús de la Osada, Professor of Biochemistry from the University of Zaragoza or the chef with three Michelín stars Joan Roca. “This congress has made public at an international level the great qualities of olive oil for health, which must be a key factor next years for its promotion and the conquer of new palates and markets”, claims.

Also, it has to be emphasized the great attendance side activities scheduled within OPEN O_LIVE!, like the lecturing exhibition located in the Iberian Museum lobby, the interactive installation “Art-Data del Olivar” or the experience Oleotour Virtual. In addition, hundreds of people witnessed the exciting poetry battle Slam-Rap, in which José Flores and Pedro Cortés faced Elías and Javo in a dialogue about Jaén identity, and the original fusion show “Electro-ritmos del Olivar”, played by Lola Torres” as well as Juno & Darrell. Olive oil tasting offered by certifications of origin from Jaén, defending the sensory pannel test, attracted many people.

Source: Web O_LIVE!

In the following links you can find all the information concerning tables developed, pictures, videos… of the Congress O_LIVE!

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